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Imagining a world with no bullshit jobs

Tue, 08/07/2018 - 15:09

By David Graeber and Chris Brooks, via ROAR Magazine

Is your job pointless? Do you feel that your position could be eliminated and everything would continue on just fine? Maybe, you think, society would even be a little better off if your job never existed?

If your answer to these questions is “yes,” then take solace. You are not alone. As much as half the work that the working population engages in every day could be considered pointless, says David Graeber, Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics and author of Bullshit Jobs: A Theory.

According to Graeber, the same free market policies that have made life and work more difficult for so many working people over the past few decades have simultaneously produced more highly paid managers, telemarketers, insurance company bureaucrats, lawyers and lobbyists who do nothing useful all day. Labor journalist Chris Brooks interviewed David Graeber to learn how so many pointless jobs came to exist and what it means for labor activists.

You make a distinction between bullshit jobs and shit jobs in your book. Can you talk a little bit about the distinction between the two?

Well it’s fairly straightforward: shit jobs are just bad jobs. Ones you’d never want to have. Back-breaking, underpaid, unappreciated, people who are treated without dignity and respect… The thing is for the most part, shit jobs aren’t bullshit, in the sense of pointless, nonsensical, because actually they usually involve doing something that genuinely needs to be done: driving people around, building things, taking care of people, cleaning up after them…

Bullshit jobs are most often paid quite well, involve nice benefit packages, you’re treated like you’re important and actually are doing something that needs to be done — but in fact, you know you’re not. So in that way they’re typically opposites.

How many of these bullshit jobs do you think could be eliminated and what kind of impact could that have on society?

Well pretty much all of them — that’s kind of the whole point. Bullshit jobs are ones where the person doing them secretly believes that if the job (or even sometimes the entire industry) were to disappear, it would make no difference — or perhaps, as in the case of say telemarketers, lobbyists, or many corporate law firms, the world would be a better place.

And that’s not all: think of all the people doing real work in support of bullshit jobs, cleaning their office buildings, doing security or pest control for them, looking after the psychological and social damage done to human beings by people all working too hard on nothing. I’m sure we could easily eliminate half the work we’re doing and that would have major positive effects on everything from art and culture to climate change.

I was fascinated by your connecting the rise of bullshit jobs with the divorce between worker productivity and pay. Can you explain this process and how it has developed over the past few decades?

To be honest I’m not sure how new a thing it really is. The point wasn’t so much about productivity, in the economic sense, as social benefit. If someone is cleaning, or nursing, or cooking or driving a bus, you know exactly what they’re doing and why it’s important. This is not at all so clear for a brand manager or financial consultant. There was always something of an inverse relation between the usefulness of a given form of labor, and compensation. There are a few well-known exceptions like doctors or pilots but generally it holds true.

What’s happened has been less a change in the pattern, as a vast inflation of the number of useless and relatively well-paid jobs. We deceptively refer to the rise of the service economy here, but most actual service jobs are useful and low paid — I’m talking about waitresses, uber drivers, barbers and the like — and their overall numbers haven’t changed at all. What’s really increased are the number of clerical, administrative and managerial jobs, which seem to have tripled as an overall proportion of workers over the last century or so. That’s where the pointless jobs come in.

Kim Moody argues that rising productivity and low pay has more to do with intensifying management techniques, like lean and just-in-time production and surveillance technology that polices workers, rather than with automation. If that is true, then it seems like we are stuck in a vicious loop of companies creating more bullshit jobs to manage and police workers, thereby making their jobs shittier. What are your thoughts on this?

Well that’s definitely true if you’re talking about Amazon or UPS or Wallmart. I guess you could argue that the supervisory jobs that cause the speedups aren’t really bullshit, because they are doing something, if something not very nice. In manufacturing robots really have caused mass gains in productivity in most sectors, meaning that workers are downsized — though the few that remain are paid better than workers in most sectors overall.


Copies can be ordered directly from the publisher (UK/US)

Nonetheless in all those areas there’s the same tendency to add useless levels of managers between the boss, or the money people, and the actual workers, and to a large extent their “supervision” doesn’t speed up anything but actually slows it down. This becomes the more true, the more one moves toward the caring sector — education, health, social services of one sort or another. There the creation of meaningless administrative jobs and the concomitant bullshitization of real work — forcing nurses, doctors, teachers, professors to fill out endless forms all day — (I say concomitant because a lot of that, while justified by digitization, is really just there to give the useless administrators something to do), has the effect of massively lowering productivity.

This is what statistics actually show — productivity in industry skyrocketing, and with it, profits, but productivity in say health and education declining, therefore, prices going up, and profits being maintained largely by squeezing wages. Which in turn explains why you have teachers, nurses, even doctors and professors on strike in so many parts of the world.

Another of the arguments you make is that the structure of the modern corporation resembles feudalism more closely than the ideal of hypothetical market capitalism. What do you mean by that?

Well when I was in college they taught me that capitalism means that there are capitalists, who own productive resources, like say factories, and they hire people to make stuff and then sell it. So they can’t pay their workers so much they don’t make a profit, but they have to pay them at least enough that they can afford to buy the stuff the factory produces. Feudalism in contrast is when you just take your profits directly, by charging rent, fees and dues, turning people in debt peons, or otherwise shaking them down.

Well, nowadays the vast majority of corporate profits don’t come from making or selling things but from “finance”, which is a euphemism for other peoples’ debts — charging rents and fees and interest and whatnot. It’s feudalism in the classic definition, “direct juro-political extraction” as they sometimes put it.

This also means the role of government is very different: in classic capitalism it just protects your property and maybe polices the labor force so they don’t get too difficult, but in financial capitalism, you’re extracting your profits through the legal system, so the rules and regulations are absolutely crucial, you basically need the government to back you up as you shake people down for their debts.

And this also helps to explain why market enthusiasts are wrong in their claims that it’s impossible or unlikely that capitalism will produce bullshit jobs.

Yes, exactly. Amusingly enough both libertarians and Marxists tend to attack me on these grounds, and the reason is that both are still basically operating with a conception of capitalism as it existed in maybe the 1860s — lots of little competing firms making and selling stuff. Sure, that’s still true if you’re talking about, say, owner-operated restaurants, and I’d agree that such restaurants tend not to hire people they don’t really need.

But if you’re talking about the large firms that dominate the economy nowadays, they operate by an entirely different logic. If profits are extracted through fees, rents and creating and enforcing debts, if the state is intimately involved in surplus extraction, well, the difference between the economic and political sphere tends to dissolve. Buying political loyalty for your extractive schemes is itself an economic good.

There are also political roots to the creation of bullshit jobs. In your book you return to a particularly striking quote by former President Barack Obama. Can you talk about that quote and what it implies about political support for bullshit jobs?

When I suggested that one reason bullshit jobs endure is that they are politically convenient for a lot of powerful people, of course, lots of people accused me of being a paranoid conspiracy theorist — even though what I was really writing, I thought, was more an anti-conspiracy theory, why is it that powerful people don’t get together and try to do something about the situation.

The Obama quote felt like a smoking gun in that regard — basically he said “well everyone says single payer health care would be so much more efficient, sure, maybe it would, but think about it, we have millions of people working in jobs in all these competing private health firms because of all that redundancy and inefficiency. What are we going to do with those people?” So he admitted the free market was less efficient, in health at least, and that’s precisely why he preferred it — it maintained bullshit jobs.

Now, it’s interesting you never hear politicians talk that way about blue collar jobs — there it’s always the law of the market to eliminate as many as possible, or cut their salaries, and if they suffer, well, there’s nothing you can really do. For example, Obama didn’t seem to have nearly such concern about the auto workers who got laid off or had to give huge pay sacrifices after the bailout of the industry. So some jobs matter more than others.

In the case of Obama, it’s pretty clear why: as Tom Frank recently noted, the Democratic Party made a strategic decision starting in the ‘80s to basically drop the working class as their core constituency and take up the professional managerial classes instead. That’s now their base. But of course that’s exactly the area the bullshit jobs are concentrated.

In your book you stress that it is not just the Democrats that are institutionally invested in bullshit jobs, but unions too. Can you explain how unions are invested in sustaining and proliferating bullshit jobs and what this means for union activists?

Well, they used to talk about featherbedding, insisting on hiring unnecessary workers, and then of course any bureaucracy will tend to accumulate a certain number of bullshit positions. But what I was mainly talking about was simply the constant demand for “more jobs” as the solution to all social problems.

It’s always the one thing you can demand that no one can object to your demanding, as you’re not asking for a freebie, you’re asking to be allowed to earn your keep. Even Martin Luther King’s famous March on Washington was billed as a march for “Jobs and Freedom” — because if you have union support, the demand for jobs has to be in there. And paradoxically if people are working independently, as freelancers, or even in coops, well, they’re not in unions are they?

Ever since the ’60s there has been one strain of radicalism that sees unions as part of the problem for this reason. But I think we need to think about the question in broader terms: how labor unions which once used to campaign for less work, less hours, have essentially come to accept the weird trade off between puritanism and hedonism on which consumer capitalism is based — that work should be “hard” (hence good people are “hard-working people”) and that the aim of work is material prosperity, that we need to suffer to earn our right to consumer toys.

You talk at length in your book about how wrong the traditional conception of working class work is. Specifically, you argue that working class jobs have more closely resembled the work typically associated with women than the work associated with men in factories. This means that transit workers have more in common with the care giving work of teachers than brick layers. Can you talk about this and how it relates to bullshit jobs?

We have this obsession with the idea of “production” and “productivity” (which in turn has to “grow”, hence, “growth”) — which I really think is theological in its origins. God created the universe. Humans are cursed to have to imitate God by creating their own food and clothing, etc., in pain and misery. So we think of work primarily as productive, making things — each sector is defined by its “productivity’, even real estate! — when in fact, even a moment’s reflection should show that most work isn’t making anything, it’s cleaning and polishing, and watching and tending to, helping and nurturing and fixing and otherwise taking care of things.

You make a cup once. You wash it a thousand times. This is what most working class work has always been too, there were always more nannies and bootblacks and gardeners and chimneysweeps and sex workers and dustmen and scullery maids and so on than factory workers.

And yes, even transit workers, who might seem to have nothing to do now that the ticket booths have been automated, are really there in case children get lost, or someone’s sick, or to talk down some drunk guy who’s bothering people… (Here the problem is the public has been so conditioned to think like petty bourgeois bosses they can’t accept that there’s no reason for people who are just there in case there’s a problem to be sitting around playing cards all day, so they’re expected to pretend to be working all the time anyway.) Yet we leave this out of our theories of value which are all about “productivity”.

I suggest the reverse, as feminist economists have suggested, we could think of even factory work as an extension of caring labor, because you only want to make cars or pave highways because you care that people can get to where they’re going. Certainly something like this underlies the sense people have that their work has “social value” — or even more, that it doesn’t have any social value if they have bullshit jobs.

But it’s very important I think to begin to reconsider how we think about the value of our work, and these things will become ever more important as automation makes caring labor more important — not just because, as I’ve already pointed out, it is having the paradoxical effect of causing those sectors to be less efficient, so there are more and more people have to work in those sectors to achieve the same effects, and not even because as a result these are the zones of real conflict, but especially because these are the areas we would not want to automate. We wouldn’t want a robot talking down drunks or comforting lost children. We need to see the value in the sort of labor we would only really want humans to do.

What are the implications of your theory of bullshit jobs for labor activists? You state that it’s hard to imagine what a campaign against bullshit jobs might look like, but can you sketch out some ideas of ways that unions and activists might start tackling this issue?

I like to talk about “the revolt of the caring classes.” The working classes have always been the caring classes — not just because they do almost all of the caring labor, but also because, perhaps partly as a result, they actually are more empathetic than the rich. Psychological studies show this, by the way. The richer you are, the less competent you are at even understanding other people’s feelings. So trying to reimagine work — not as a value or end in itself, but as the material extension of caring — is a good start.

Actually I’d even propose we replace “production” and “consumption” with “caring” and “freedom” — caring is any action ultimately directed towards maintaining or increasing another person, or other people’s freedom, just as mothers take care of children not just so they are healthy and grow and thrive, but most immediately, so they can play, which is the ultimate expression of freedom.

That’s all long-term stuff though. In the more immediate sense, I think we need to figure out how to oppose the dominance of the professional-managerial, not just in existing left organizations — though in many cases, like the US Democratic Party, I don’t even know if they should be called left — and thus, to effectively oppose bullshitization.

Right now nurses in New Zealand are on strike and one of their major issues is exactly that: on the one hand, their real wages have been declining, but on the other, they also find they are spending so much time filling out forms they can’t take care of their patients. It’s over 50 percent for many nurses.

The two problems are linked because of course all the money that would have otherwise been going to keep their wages up, are instead being diverted to hiring new and useless administrators who then burden them with even more bullshit to justify their own existence. But often, those administrators are represented by the same parties, even sometimes in the same unions.

How do we come up with a practical program to fight this sort of thing? I think that’s an extremely important strategic question.

Tags: David Graeberbullshit jobscategory: Other
Categories: News

Far-right politician Jacob Rees-Mogg gets a home-visit by crazed anarchist vandals

Tue, 08/07/2018 - 15:00

via 325

How many people would love to tell Jacob Rees-Mogg to go and fuck himself? Well, last night we did so in joyful fashion. We paid a little visit to the countryside just outside of Bristol, to his mansion called Gourney Court in the quiet village of West Harptree.

For those of you who are reading this and do not know who this man is, he is one of the most detestable members of parliament ever, and fuck me they’re a bad bunch. Other politicians claim he is the one truly ruling this country from behind the scenes. Here are some of his charming characteristics…

He is extremely wealthy, staunchly Roman Catholic, a clear friend to fascist groups and has his eyes fixed on being the actual political leader of this fucking prison island (after May decomposes fully).

He was raised by his nanny. After prep school he attended Eton college and then Oxford university (for the poshest people in the country). Him and his wife have a 100 million quid together, they just bought a new house in London for 5 million, he makes 168,000 pounds a year from his partnership in a hedgefund business called Somerset Capital Management that is worth 7.5 billion pounds (apparently it invests in tobacco, mining and oil and is based in offshore tax havens, for those who care about such details). He proudly claims he has never changed a nappy in his life despite having 6 kids.

He uses his religion as an excuse for his xenophobic views. He is opposed to same sex marriage and contraception, he is against feminism, LGBTQI people and specifically gender re-assignment. He is opposed to abortion in all circumstances including cases of rape. He has argued for the abolition of environmental protections and for fracking, he is pro fox hunting and has also argued for the Conservative party to be almost entirely white skinned. He is opposed to immigration, he supports zero hours contracts and loves the equally charming DUP (Northern Irelands right-wing Democratic Unionist Party) and the Conservative governments billion pound deal with them.

He fucking idolizes Margaret Thatcher and we’re not even done yet…

In May 2013, he addressed the annual dinner held by the Traditional Britain Group, a group of fascists that calls for non-white Britons to be deported. Apparently he had been informed about these things by anti-fascist group Searchlight prior to his attendance.

After Rees-Mogg was confronted by anti-fascists in Bristol a year ago, Britain First (another fascist organisation) pledged to protect him at future events.

Rees-Mogg is backed by Nigel Farage, the disgusting former leader of nationalist UKIP party, who has probably the second most punchable face in politics after Rees-Mogg himself. He’s also met with Steve Bannon of Breitbart News in the US.

He constantly spouts-off about these high morals of Catholicism from his position of other-worldly privilege with no comprehension of the realities of people at the other end of the financial spectrum.

Phew, that is an impressively exhausting list to sum up a contender for the worlds biggest arsehole.

For all of these reasons and more he was chosen as a perfect symbol of many things we struggle against as anarchists. And so… last night we left him over 60 soiled nappies spread across his grounds as he’s no idea what they look like (don’t ask where they came from! haha). We spread around condoms to see if the idea would grow on him, even decorating a crucifix in his garden with them. We left lots of lovely messages sprayed around many of the buildings on his property letting him know exactly how we felt about him and causing a considerable clean up job. The pièce de résistance: his wife’s car (license plate Y7 HRM) sprayed with “SCUM” across the side in massive letters with a big sucker dildo planted on the bonnet! Beautiful.

Our action is not revenge or punishment (how could it be, there is no balance between our prank and this list of his accomplishments), but one (slightly sillier) glimpse into one of the multitude ways we exercise our critical analysis.

The conditions of our existence are under the control of people like this, but make no mistake, unlike one member of Bristol antifa who confronted Rees-Mogg, we are not supporters of the left or defenders of Jeremy Corbyn, we are not interested in a different leadership, in another form of representation, in a regime change, or in anything that merely shuffles around the makeup of power. We are opposed to all political forms including democracy. Democracy is shit, it breaks the link between thought and action. It does nothing but maintain the existence of alienated power since it requires that our desires be separate from our power to act, and any attempts to engage in that system will only serve to reproduce it. Voting does not give you a voice, it takes it away.

We continue to struggle for our ourselves, in solidarity with our comrades (inside and outside of the prison walls, across national boundaries and to those continuing to struggle who have been forced underground)… and in honor of a comrade who fell in the midst of fighting and who spent her life struggling against many of the issues mentioned above. Like the graffiti says around Bristol, “keep fighting!”.


The Cornerstone group(1) can shove their faith and their flag up their arse and Momentum(2) can go fuck themselves as well!

Down with politics and politicians, religion and the State!


The Home-visit Cell

PS. Sorry for the long communique, blame Jacob Rees-Mogg for being such a massive prick.

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornerstone_Group
(2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Momentum_(organisation)

Tags: ukJacob Rees-Moggvandalismcategory: Actions
Categories: News

Call for proposals for the BASTARD conference 2018

Tue, 08/07/2018 - 14:17

BASTARD 2018: CALL FOR PRESENTATIONS

—————————————

Another East Bay summer is here, and with the lingering days come street clashes, sweaty leather, and of course, DIY anarchist conferences. Yes, the 2018 BASTARD Conference will be held on Sunday, September 16 at the Long Haul Infoshop in Berkeley, CA and we want to hear your proposals for presentations. The BASTARD (Berkeley Anarchist Students of Theory and Research & Development) Conference is an annual day of discussions about the beautiful idea, organized by participants in the Berkeley Anarchist Study Group, which meets every Tuesday at 8:00pm at the Long Haul and is open to all.

Our theme this year is “Hyphenated Anarchism”, a reflection on how our identities and proclivities shape our particular concept of anarchism, as well as what happens when different notions of anarchy collide. What happens to each term when we construct a binomial, like queer anarchism or anarcha-feminism, and how do we find a balance between the two components? How does having a multitude of anarchist tendencies both help us find potential accomplices and create opposition where there might otherwise be solidarity? What areas go overlooked or occluded by particular anarchist tendencies and how does the impulse to subdivide or specialize create these oversights? How does grounding anarchism in individual desire place limits on our ability to articulate a shared set of ideas and practices and, when the two conflict, which should take precedence? This topic is intended only as a point of departure; we encourage you to make the theme your own and find ways in which these ideas relate to your life and struggles.

Please send your proposals and any questions to conference@sfbay-anarchists.org; the deadline for submissions is Monday, August 27. We look forward to seeing you there.

Tags: theoryconferenceworkshoppresentation2018eventcategory: Projects
Categories: News

Communique from anarchist Juan Aliste Vega

Mon, 08/06/2018 - 18:02

via act for freedom now!

We receive and spread:

Latest medical reports and revolutionary solidarity

Juan Aliste Vega’s message from the Prison Hospital

Our negotiations and tenacity inside and outside prison over the past four months have achieved a first result: on Thursday 19th July I was transferred from the High Security Prison to the Prison Hospital to have an ECG and other tests I needed. The following morning, Friday 20th July, I was transferred again – amidst a huge deployment of police and prison guards – to the INCA (Institute of Neurosurgery) to finally have an angiography, a test in order to get a more detailed image of the area where the cerebral damage I sustained from blows inflicted in the past is to be found.

It is worth mentioning that this test is crucial and necessary for the operation that I will need to have very soon. In the end the test was carried out without any problem and the medical team involved treated me in a dignified and correct way.

After the test I was transferred to the Prison Hospital by ambulance; from there I will be discharged soon to be taken back to the High Security Prison.

Medical language and its technical details can only partially describe my current situation. There are still many obstacles to be overcome, just as difficult or even more difficult than this test, before I can undergo the brain operation, which had already been defined ‘urgent’ last March: obstacles and barriers erected because for the State I am an outcast, closely watched by the local police who act according to the hard logic of revenge and fury, and moreover I’m submerged in a disgusting bureaucratic quagmire.

These words are far from victimization and lament, but are full of revolutionary, untameable and subversive vitality. In the constant practice of reciprocal revolutionary solidarity, which we subversive political prisoners have been carrying out for years, it becomes necessary to relate any step taken in this battle. It wasn’t the first nor will it be the last battle we have to face as outcasts of the State.

I’d like to take the chance to rejoice in the various initiatives carried out in Santiago, Concepciòn, Valdivia, Temuco and other places, as well as the internationalist initiatives that were able to cross the borders of Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Spain … Initiatives and gestures with which we put solidarity into practice, solidarity that builds and strengthens the network of subversion; initiatives and gestures that are vital to us like oxygen and support us in the path towards the ultimate liberation from prison.

We remain here, not one step back, without bowing our head, proud of the wonderful rebel complicity that goes everywhere, spreads, multiplies and allows us to face everything that will come.

While poverty exists … there will be rebellion!

Juan Aliste Vega, Subversive Prisoner

Prison Hospital, Santiago of Chile

July 2018

roundrobin.info

Translated from Italian by act for freedom now!

Tags: Juan Aliste VegaChileanarchist prisonercategory: Prisoners
Categories: News

Brazil – ‘Sentenced: the Incorrigibles!’

Mon, 08/06/2018 - 17:55

via act for freedom now!

On the sentences against 23 comrades for alleged participation in the disorders in Rio de Janeiro in 2013-2014

As we oppose anything that violates freedom, today we are opposing the sentences against the 23 arrested following the protests in Río de Janeiro in 2013-2014.

‘The freedom of others extends mine infinitely.’ – M. Bakunin

23 people were sentenced in Río de Janeiro in ‘Operation Firewall’ for violence, criminal organization, damage, resistance, bodily harm and possession of explosive devices; sentences range from 5 to 13 years in prison and were issued by judge Flavio Itabaiana of the 27th Penal Tribunal in Rio de Janeiro.

They were all investigated by the Unit for the repression of cyber-crimes, which was the political police engaged in the World Cup and Olympic Games, the same that monitored protests in Porto Alegre and Sao Paulo.

It’s not by chance that the police operation was given this name: Firewall is the name of a device inside a computer network that aims to apply a security protocol at a certain point of the network; so Firewall is meant to block harmful elements in a computer network. The media and communication technology are being used as instruments of control and repression (we’ve known this for a long time), but this is an obvious example of the potential these instruments have for repressive purposes.

According to the judge (in an act of benevolence), remand in custody was not ordered so that those convicted could appeal the sentences under restrictive measures. However these sentences, even considering the possibility to appeal for ‘freedom’, represent to us a precedent to understand where they want us to be (in prison). And today these sentences pose the necessity to change the precedent for mobilization against prison society, mobilization for solidarity.

As those accused had been recently repressed by Operation Erebeo, the least we can do in the face of these sentences is to express firm solidarity through a call for combative mobilization in solidarity and against them.

But not under the banner of being against the criminalization of protests. Protests cannot be included in the rules of legal or illegal, guilty or innocent, permitted or prohibited. Protests go beyond these categories precisely because they follow a direction contrary to the latter. We are against repression because the whole system of domination is continuous repression and anyone who perceives it acts against it, takes to the streets, destroys material things and with each act destroys domination. Anyone who rebels against the established order will always be considered ‘criminal’ because the ‘crime’ of protests is a symptom of not total submission to domination. If we struggle under the banner ‘protest is not a crime’ we accept and legitimize the existence of prisons; but as we are anarchists, and we are just that, we love freedom and are irreducible enemies of cages.

How could we not take to the streets against the spectacles that justify social cleansing? How could we remain indifferent to redevelopment, militarization and decoration of the streets for tourists and strolling of the bourgeois who were at the World Cup and Olympic Games? It’s deeply sad to know that at the cry of ‘Goal!’ or in their enthusiasm for a gold medal some people forget the abuse, deaths and genocidal politics produced by this spectacle. And it gives us infinite joy to know that the incorrigibles go out and destroy everything, in spite of the alleged control of the ‘authorities’ that spent millions in security.

Violent protest is the least gesture of sensibility we have in the face of dominating oppression that tries to extend as ‘normal life’. It’s a signal that we still feel the cruelty of devastation, of undeclared war; and like animals in front of a tamer… we react against the whip.

Biblioteca Anarquista Kaos

Against the sentences, permanent mobilization

Solidarity with those who struggle!

The 23 sentenced following the protests in Rio de Janeiro in 2013:

– Elisa Quadros Pinto Sanzi, sentenced to 7 years in prison

– Luiz Carlos Rendeiro Júnior, sentenced to 7 years in prison

– Gabriel da Silva Marinho, sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in prison

– Karlayne Moraes da Silva Pinheiro, sentenced to 7 years in prison

– Eloisa Samy Santiago, sentenced to 7 years in prison

– Igor Mendes da Silva, sentenced to 7 years in prison

– Camila Aparecida Rodrigues Jordan, sentenced to 7 years in prison

– Igor Pereira D’Icarahy, sentenced to 7 years in prison

– Drean Moraes de Moura, sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in prison

– Shirlene Feitoza da Fonseca, sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in prison

– Leonardo Fortini Baroni, sentenced to 7 years in prison

– Emerson Raphael Oliveira da Fonseca, sentenced to 7 years in prison

– Rafael Rêgo Barros Caruso, sentenced to 7 years in prison

– Filipe Proença de Carvalho Moraes, sentenced to 7 years in prison

– Pedro Guilherme Mascarenhas Freire, sentenced to 7 years in prison

– Felipe Frieb de Carvalho, sentenced to 7 years in prison

– Pedro Brandão Maia, sentenced to 7 years in prison

– Bruno de Sousa Vieira Machado, sentenced to 7 years in prison

– André de Castro Sanchez Basseres, sentenced to 7 years in prison

– Joseane Maria Araújo de Freitas, sentenced to 7 years in prison

– Rebeca Martins de Souza, sentenced to 7 years in prison

– Fábio Raposo Barbosa, sentenced to 7 years in prison

– Caio Silva de Souza, sentenced to 7 years in prison

anarhija.info

Translated from Italian by act for freedom now!

Tags: brazilanarchist prisonerscategory: Prisoners
Categories: News

TOTW: The medium and the message

Mon, 08/06/2018 - 13:09

Since it is often said that if you can't say anything nice you shouldn't say anything at all... I've been standing mute for some time. I'm sick of it but I am exhausted by all the hate and all the different permutations of how my words can be, and usually is, misrepresented by the listening audience. But I get it, attempts at humor are best landed to a very sympathetic audience and snark never sounds good if you don't agree with the snarker...

Here is the thing, it did used to be different. When we didn't know each other we could hear Bob Black, Bookchin, or even Becken for the cranky opinionated personalities they were and not need to take it further. We could both disagree with an anarchist personality AND be excited for the next time they published or spoke. I love the Internet because of how accessible the information about our tendencies have become but I hate it for the ways it appears to have not just polarized our different positions but defanged them too.

How? This is a topic for a different time but it does seem that the gap is widening between the different kinds of roles involved in our little space. In the example I use above we are referring to three "white men" who happen to write. None of these men work particularly well with people (ie are seen as lone writers and not, for instance, organization men) nor did any of them write a classic text (although Abolition of Work and maybe The Ecology of Freedom are modern minor classics). They are partisans of The Idea and are valuable for that.

Here is the topic. Was it the pacing of book (and perhaps periodical) writing that created our different, perhaps less hostile, sense of who authors were or was it the distance? Is anarchism a movement of essays or of books? Is authorship the issue (as in death of the author and/or anon writing) in terms of how to end stupid hostility in the Internet Age?

Tags: totwdeath of the authorsocietycrimethincattackcategory: Other
Categories: News

Anews Episode 75 - August 3rd, 2018

Sun, 08/05/2018 - 23:43

https://podcast.anarchistnews.org/index.php/2018/08/05/anews-episode-75-...

Welcome to the Anews podcast. This is episode 75 for August 3rd, 2018. This podcast covers anarchist activity, ideas, and conversations from the previous week.
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Categories: News

Taking Stock of the Nicaraguan Uprising

Fri, 08/03/2018 - 12:33

From CrimethInc.

Asking the Hard Questions after Three Months of Revolt

Since the beginning of the uprising in Nicaragua, we have published reports from anarchist participants in Managua. After three months of demonstrations, blockades, and street fighting, the Ortega government has succeeded in clearing the roads and driving many dissidents and rebels out of the country, but not at suppressing the revolt entirely. In the following update, we continue to give voice to Nicaraguan anarchists as they report on the struggle in their country and reflect on its future.

But first, let’s address some of the questions that the revolt has raised.

Some statists on the left have attempted to frame the entire uprising as a plot concocted by the US, arguing that opposition forces in Nicaragua answer directly to “their US overlords”—effectively endorsing the killings carried out by Nicaraguan police and paramilitaries as some kind of anti-imperialism. From our perspective, on the contrary, leftist statism has enabled Ortega, a one-time revolutionary, to accumulate power and push through neoliberal reforms, generating the same kind of grassroots revolt that has broken out in many other economic and political contexts including Greece, Turkey, Bosnia, and Brazil. This is not a question of mere international intrigue, but of the legitimate grievances that capitalism and the state are producing on a global scale. If Ortega and the statists who support him are able to monopolize the discourse of the left, there will be no outlet for legitimate popular frustration except right-wing reactionary movements.

For this reason, we consider it urgent that anarchists and other anti-authoritarians enter into dialogue with participants in the uprising in Nicaragua.


Nicaraguan police attack protesting students outside the University of Engineering on April 20.


However, in the absence of a strong anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist movement that could offer a revolutionary horizon for change in Nicaragua, most participants have limited themselves to calling for “justice” and “democracy,” hoping to create the conditions for a new government to come to power. Some have even met with representatives of the Republican right wing to seek US backing. We are convinced that this approach is a grievous error, even for Nicaraguan protesters who do not share our opposition to capitalism, the US government, and government itself.

If the revolt aims to solve the problems created by neoliberal policies and authoritarian government, it must go much further than ousting Ortega. USAID and other forms of intervention are clearly intended to shape the protest movements according to the US agenda in order to determine what will come next. It’s naïve to imagine that the US government or any of the entities affiliated with it will support any sort of change in Nicaragua unless it advances the economic interests of capitalists in the United States. We have seen over and over—most recently in Afrin—how the US selectively empowers the most conservative elements within popular struggles, then ruthlessly betrays the movements as a whole as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

Can participants in the Nicaraguan uprising who do not wish to compromise with the US agenda outflank those who believe that the top priority is to oust Ortega by any means? It seems to us that this is the essential question. This will determine whether the movements in Nicaragua can follow through on their promises to create a foundation for true autonomy, freedom, and self-determination.

Thus far, participants in the uprising have focused on maintaining “unity” across ideological and strategic lines. In the face of brutal repression from the Ortega government, we can understand the tactical advantages of maintaining a united front. Yet if the movement continues to prioritize unity over debate, it will not be possible to criticize the compromises that the US will demand in return for support. In that case, even a revolution that ousted the Ortega government entirely would likely result only in more neoliberal economic policies and authoritarianism.

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”

-Thomas Jefferson.

Manure—which is to say, bullshit. In fact, periodic revolutions can also refresh the illusion of liberty that maintains the legitimacy of the state. When we seek revolutionary change, the problem is how to take on the current reigning government in a way that will make it more difficult for any government to legitimize its authority. Otherwise, whatever new government comes to power will likely implement some version of the same policies that made people revolt against the previous one, answering as it does to the same structural factors such as global economic pressures and the exigencies of maintaining a monopoly on force. We can’t depend on governments to make the changes we want to see; we have to develop grassroots movements backed by powerful international solidarity.

Granted, it can be inconvenient for social movements to focus on making principled decisions when they are also attempting to deal with the immediate problems created by government crackdowns and criminalization. But acting in the present in a way that moves us towards our long-term goals is a prerequisite for being able to make real change. Nicaraguans movements need to develop practices that they can employ right now to go on building strength autonomously during the remainder of the Orteguista administration, practices that can continue intensifying through the inevitable electoral campaigns, promises of reform, and transitions of power that are to come.

“I have no particular love for the idealized ‘worker’ as he appears in the bourgeois Communist’s mind, but when I see an actual flesh-and-blood worker in conflict with his natural enemy, the policeman, I do not have to ask myself which side I am on.”

-George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia

All of this being said, we salute the courage of ordinary people who have rebelled in Nicaragua, occupying universities and standing up to the violence of the police. We call on anarchists and other sincere partisans of equality and freedom to create international networks of support that could offer a credible alternative to US backing, so rebels in Nicaragua and elsewhere will not be forced to choose between local authoritarianism and neoliberal colonialism.

For more background on the uprising in Nicaragua, consult our previous coverage:

Here follows the latest report and reflections from our Nicaraguan contacts.


A young man walks across a toppled “tree of life”—a symbol of the Ortega regime—at the roundabout El Periodista in Managua.


Update on the Nicaraguan Insurrection: June-July
  • Since April 19, approximately 300 people have been killed in political violence in Nicaragua; 2000 people have been injured; there are over 600 political prisoners, and approximately 600 more people are missing. In addition, some 23,000 people have requested refugee status in Costa Rica. 1 Bear in mind that Nicaragua has a population of about 7 million, much fewer than the other countries we are being compared with.
  • On July 16, the Orteguista Party passed an “Anti-Terrorism Law” criminalizing popular protests and justifying the imprisonment of hundreds of protestors. This law targets people transporting medicine and food, people organizing GoFundMe accounts, family members of students, and bystanders. This law has also justified the kidnapping of student activists, neighborhood leaders, and organizers from the campesino movement. People have already been arrested and charged under this law, including various campesino leaders. The Orteguista Party has adopted the language of terrorism to describe the popular uprising in general.

  • The Orteguista Party has accused the priests and the Catholic Church of protecting the “terrorists” and “promoting a coup.” This has broken the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Orteguista Party. Orteguista supporters have attacked priests moderating the dialogue and protecting protesters at churches.

  • There are arrest warrants now for most of the student leaders representing universities from the Alianza Civica; campesino leaders and other organizers have been targeted as well. Along with the break with the Catholic Church, this confirms that the Ortega Government is no longer trying to pursue dialogue.

  • One of the chief goals of the Alianza was to fast-track the elections to 2019. Daniel Ortega has repeatedly turned this down, stating that he will hold elections when his term ends in 2021. A report from Etica y Transparencia says that 79% of the population wants new elections. It just so happens that the United States Government and the OAS are advocating for new elections, as well. The Alianza and some social movements have also floated the idea of a transitional government.

  • In June, Masaya declared itself an autonomous city practicing self-government. They set up their own community watch, their own community assemblies, their own lines of defense, their own clean up committees. This was part of a strategy to complement a citywide workers strike. It’s important to note that this was not proposed by the Alianza Civica. Masaya remained autonomous for a couple of days until pro-government paramilitaries carried out massive attacks to recapture it. Cities like Masaya that have been historically been Sandinista strongholds have been hotly contested between protestors and paramilitary forces. Masaya no longer has any blockades.

  • Right next to Masaya, the city of Monimbo is an indigenous community of artisans and craft-makers. It was one of the first cities to rise against Orteguismo in April. It has been an inspiration since the beginning because of the resiliency and revolutionary spirit of the locals.

  • Monimbo, the epicenter of indigenous resistance, and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua (UNAN), the only university still occupied by students, were both viciously attacked and evicted by paramilitaries forces shortly before July 19, the 39th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution. Moninbo and UNAN are now under the control of Paramilitary forces. UNAN and other universities are set to resume the academic calendar soon, but students fear persecution.

  • Paramilitary forces have attacked and evicted every road blockade, killing dozens around the country. The circulation of vehicles and economic goods has resumed. In three separate interviews, when asked about the paramilitaries, Ortega gave three different answers: he claimed that the paramilitaries were funded by the US government, that the paramilitaries were funded by the MRS and the PLC, and that the paramilitaries were “volunteer policemen.”

  • With the leadership of right-wing Republicans Marco Rubio and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has approved $1.5 million dollars to promote “democracy, human rights, and leadership” in Nicaragua. How this money will shape the crisis remains to be seen.

  • On July 31, Universidad Centroamericana (Central American University, or UCA) suffered government cuts and suspended classes, putting 95% of its personnel on hold. The national budget sets aside 6% of funds to go towards education, a victory from the student protests in the 1990s. UCA is semi-public: it still receives government funding, but students also pay tuition, which has enabled UCA to create programing and education that is not entirely in line with the Ortega agenda. UCA is considered a middle-class university devoted to the humanities; its students have played a critical role in the uprisings. SOSIndioMaiz and OcupaINSS both involved UCA student initiative. This is seen as government revenge against these students, but it also places additional pressure on the insurrection to work towards a future in which education is autonomous, accessible, and critical of authority.

  • Weekly protests continue all over the country, all targeted by state repression.


    Daniel Ortega’s supporters.


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Tensions, Divisions, and Realities

The people of Nicaragua are revolting against Ortega on the grounds that he represents authoritarianism, lack of transparency, the embezzlement of public funds, the co-option of supposedly neutral institutions like the police and medical system,2 the exploitation of natural resources, the harassment of social movement leaders, and the hijacking of the education system.

This is not a centralized movement; all the demands and criticism of Ortega complement each other, but these demands are specific to different themes and regions. For example, Masaya has no student movement, per se, and the students are presenting very different demands than the campesino movement. There have been some efforts to centralize all the demands into a single common organization, but the present conditions have not allowed for the necessary meetings to occur.

At the beginning, the unified concentration was the Alianza Civica. This group, la Alianza Civica (the Civil Alliance), is a coalition including students, farmers, and members of “civil society,” the ones promoting the dialogue with the government moderated by the Catholic Church. The Alianza has maintained its role of calling for protests and marches, but it has been losing power since the government is no longer negotiating with it and most of the resistance has been organized autonomously. The only reason the Alianza was formed was to mediate the conversation with the government; it wasn’t intended to undertake long-term grassroots organizing efforts or to form a political party. Meanwhile, the Autoconvocados movement, a decentralized movement under a common name, continues encouraging all the protesting sectors, pressuring the Alianza, and organizing protests and marches. The demonstrations that draw thousands into the streets of Managua are the combined efforts of the Alianza, the Autoconvocados, the student groups, and “civil society.”

Inside and outside of the Alianza, discontent is growing with the Consejo Superior de la Empresa Privada en Nicaragua (COSEP). COSEP is the chamber of private business, and they have yet to declare a National Strike that would bring pressure to bear against the Ortegas. Many believe that the window of opportunity for a strategic and effective National Strike has already closed. This “betrayal” from COSEP has diminished their political power.

Furthermore, some student groups have met with right-wing politicians in the United States and El Salvador, causing even more tensions among students and citizens. There are many different student organizations represented in the Alianza, and no one can speak on behalf of the others. For example, student organizations like the Coordinadora Universitaria por la Democracia y la Justicia (CUDJ), Alianza Universitaria Nicaraguense (AUN) and the Articulation of Social Movements and Civil Society (AMSOSC), all members of the Alianza, want nothing to do with US Republicans, and communicating with the Unites States is not their priority.

The context has shifted a great deal over the past month. Starting last weekend, everybody who participated in the UNAN occupation or in the resistance in Monimbo is being hunted and persecuted. Over 700 people are detained and many are missing; the state now has the legal foundation to charge protesters with terrorism, and vice president Rosario Murillo has emphasized several times in radio communiqués that the “terrorists” will be persecuted. In response, Costa Rica has set up two refugee camps in San Jose, and those who can afford to flee are leaving the country. The majority of the protestors who experienced direct confrontation with the paramilitaries are now hiding in safehouses.


The names of the dead.


In this situation, it is difficult for grassroots groups to organize, since they will immediately face the paramilitary forces that are constantly patrolling rural and cities streets. Nevertheless, there were massive marches celebrating the “Day of the Student” on July 23 and the “March of the Flowers.” Thousands have attended these marches and the paramilitary forces did not attack them. However, on account of the presence of paramilitaries, there is still a self-imposed citywide curfew at night.

Because of this situation, many people have set their hopes on the international community putting more pressure and sanctions on Ortega, hoping this will force Ortega to negotiate an exit. These hopes are motivated by the solidarity that Nicaragua has received from the international left, the resolution from the Organization of American States (OAS), and also—unfortunately—the involvement of the United States.

Relying on foreign intervention contradicts the popular chant Solo el pueblo salva al pueblo, “Only the people save the people,” a common demand for autonomy. Consequently, another part of the movement has been investing more in marches and protests as a way to take back the streets.

People working from outside of Nicaragua are setting up systems of support to give the Nicaraguan popular insurrection visibility and to prepare for the long-term battle ahead. The networks that are being built now are intended to provide solidarity to Nicaraguans on the ground, expose the actions of the Orteguista Party, and, most importantly, build relationships that will be helpful in the future.

Many of these international efforts, like the Caravana de la Solidaridad Internacional, a group of autoconvocados that has been traveling Europe for three months, have prioritized meeting with left-wing groups and organizations; they do not meet with right-wing groups. In cities across the world that have Nicaraguan immigrants, people are creating their own Autoconovocado affinity groups and organizing marches, manifestations, and declarations. But there are also autoconvocado groups that are in the United States talking to Democrats and Republicans.

This is the reality in a diverse movement based on unity against a common enemy. People will advocate for whatever they believe will solve the crisis. The short-term goals of all of these movements are “justice” and “democracy,” in the vaguest sense: justice for the victims, democracy in the government.

It is surprising how different movements have been able to come together. For example, the feminist movement and the Catholic Church cooperated in one demonstration. Another example is Francisca Ramirez, a leader from the Movimiento Campesino, joining the March for Sexual Diversity. The joke is that “Only Ortega has been capable of uniting feminists, atheists, Catholics, the LGBT community, and students.” But in terms of practice, there is not much discussion about how these differences are being addressed.

The hope is that a new government would open a national dialogue in which all the sectors and movements that participated in the insurrection could have a platform to present their specific demands and reach consensus together. This is optimistic, to say the least. But it’s hard to start framing long-term goals in the present context of mass immigration and criminalization.

The Ortega government is also working on a day-by-day basis. We doubt that they have a long-term strategy, since everything has been escalating so rapidly. Recently, their strategy has been for Daniel Ortega to give controlled interviews to the international press. These interviews have backfired as the opposition keeps calling out Ortega’s lies.

One thing that has not changed—that has not even been questioned—has been the nationalism at the basis of the movement. The current struggles are understood in a historical context, revisiting the history of the resilient Nicaraguan people standing up to their enemies, going all the way back to Sandino, who remains the most respected revolutionary nationalist. This is the second thing Nicaraguans have in common in the struggle: the first is that they detest Ortega, the second is that they are all Nicaraguans. The entire resistance has been based around this idea of shared national identity. Many see this popular uprising as an attempt to reclaim Nicaragua from the Orteguistas.

There have been moments of solidarity that transcend nationalism. For example, Costa Rica has historically been a rival to Nicaragua, but the new Costa Rican government has supported Nicaraguan rebels on the ground and in diplomatic meetings. This has disrupted the antagonistic notion of nationalism that Nicaraguans used to have.


“Surrender? Your mama!”


The Involvement of the United States Government

People who advocate for the United States to intervene economically and with direct sanctions like the Nica Act and the Magnitsky Act claim that the United States is the only force capable of pressuring Daniel Ortega. The demands for the United States to intervene are not just coming from right-wing groups; there are many people who want the violence to stop and see US intervention as the only solution. Of course, US economic intervention is likely to cause harm to ordinary Nicaraguans, as well.

The United States has already intervened in Nicaragua by imposing sanctions, freezing US bank accounts, revoking the visas of government officials, and investing in Nicaraguan “Human rights, Journalism, and Leadership” through USAID. USAID is supposed to promote journalism to expose Ortega’s corruption and fund “human rights organizations” so that they can document human rights abuses.

The response to USAID has been diverse. In a country like Nicaragua, where a lot of the population depends on the assistance of NGOs to survive, many people will accept this help. USAID has helped run schools and invest in social infrastructure, but this is only successful because of the failures of the government and the longstanding asymmetry in wealth resulting from colonial resource extraction. The government has not had the capacity to reach rural and Caribbean communities, where NGOs have worked established themselves. This perpetuates the non-profit-industrial complex and exposes people to Western-centric ideas about “development” and “democracy.”

In view of the concentration of power under Ortega, the lack of infrastructure connecting Nicaragua and the international left, and the fact that Nicaragua has not been able to develop critically, academically, or socially, it is very likely that the social movements will accept all sorts of help, including from the United States.

US support for the Contras in the 1980s is well known. The more recent machinations of the United States against Ortega can be traced back to the Nica Act, which aimed to tie Nicaragua to Venezuela and Cuba as authoritarian socialist governments. We are experiencing a second wave of this kind of anti-socialism, which ebbed a bit during Obama’s presidency, when Obama and Cuba initiated a process of “normalizing” relations. The Obama administration did not make any major statements about Nicaragua, but actually implemented more neoliberal policies.

It is interesting that the United States government is now criticizing Ortega when it has benefited so much from Orteguismo. Presumably, the US worked with Ortega while he seemed like the only option, but now that it appears possible to arrange for an even more neoliberal government to take power in Nicaragua, this is the new priority. It is also a question of which government will be best at stabilizing Nicaragua for the sake of investment.

The United States government has major investments in Nicaragua—in free trade zones, maquilas, and tourism. Until April 2018, the United States drew tremendous economic benefits from its relations with Nicaragua. Nicaragua was the number one tourist destination in Central America, and expatriates from the United States were slowly relocating there. Nicaragua was a desirable destination for investment dollars due to its “economic and political stability.”

In Daniel Ortega’s second live speech to address the crisis, back in April, he appeared alongside a United States sweatshop owner, assuring him that things would go back to normal and that his business would not be affected. In his interview with Fox News on July 23, it appeared that he wanted to assure people in the United States that Nicaragua is still a stable place to invest in… while at the same time, in an interview with Telesur, he told viewers that the United States is financing the opposition.

The United States also benefits from Nicaragua’s immigration policy, which prohibits the transit of thousands of people who are trying to cross Nicaragua on their way overland to the United States.

The demands of the campesino movement are the chief factor that contradicts the agenda of the United States. Reacting against corporate mining companies, extractive industries, and monocrop industrial agriculture is a key element of the movement. If these demands were fulfilled, the United States would have to stop looking at Nicaragua as a place to extract resources from and invest money in for the sake of turning a profit.

The other factor that contradicts the agenda of the United States is the demand for autonomy. On what conditions will the United States help Nicaragua? Will they help us achieve autonomy even if future governments distance themselves from the United States economic policies? Looking at hundreds of years of US intervention in Latin America, this seems unlikely, to say the least.


A student sleeps inside the occupied National Autonomous University of Managua with her homemade weapon at the ready on June 29.


Thinking Ahead

The biggest fight right now is against authoritarianism, in whatever shape it takes. If the current popular insurrection is a reaction against everything that Ortega is, then the alternative would be a Nicaragua that is autonomous.

What does “autonomous” mean? For students, it means a free education without government intervention and manipulation. For feminists, it means that the government ought to keep its laws off women’s bodies while creating social and economic programs foster women’s independence from men. For the campesino movement, it means control and agency over their lands. For others, it would mean building a political organization that protects people’s rights and guarantees free health and education. In any case, autonomy means prioritizing the demands of the Nicaraguan people over those of international corporations.

Autonomy would mean abandoning the cutthroat policies of the Ortega government. It would mean respecting indigenous territories, expelling corporate mining companies, and rejecting the neoliberal policies that affect campesinos the most. Whatever government follows Ortega ought to radically change its political structure. It will be facing a population that has suffered under both right-wing and “left-wing populist” governments. It ought to recognize the demands of all the sectors that have participated in the uprising.

Participants in the student movements, the feminist movement, and the campesino movement should realistically consider whether a new political party and new elections can fulfill their demands. The truth is that electoral approaches will almost certainly water down the demands of the social movements, if they could fulfill them at all. To give these movements some credit, we hope that they will continue to protest with the same intensity against the next government if their demands aren’t met.

For more on this subject, consult the text “Why We Don’t Make Demands,” which Nicaraguans have circulated in Spanish here.

If elections occur in 2019 and the social movements don’t reach consensus on what kind of party they want to form, instead running with multiple parties, they risk dividing the opposition and losing against Ortega. From this vantage point, it is unclear whether Daniel Ortega would run for president.

Currently, no one has started campaigning for office; it has not been a priority because the anticipated elections have not been announced yet. All attention has been focused on the present, on condemning the violence, protecting all the people who are being persecuted, and trying to hold Ortega accountable.

There are already many politicians who want to take advantage of the situation. Recently, the chief right-wing political party in Nicaragua, the PLC, stated that it wanted to participate in the dialogue; but this was massively rejected on social media, on account of the oppressive history of the PLC.

All political parties and social movements need to take care not to perpetuate the mistakes that have been committed in the past. After 300 people have been murdered, after we have witnessed the lengths the Orteguista government is willing to go to ensure its supremacy, we need to change the political field completely and throw out the traditional approach to political participation and representation. People must be willing to critique and stand against these movements and their allies if they see that history is repeating again.

I find hope in another popular chant, “El pueblo ni se rinde, ni se vende”—the people neither give up nor sell themselves. There has been a popular call against “selling out,” started by students in relationship to the Unión Nacional de Estudiantes de Nicaragua (UNEN), and also by the Autoconvocados that refuse to participate in electoral politics. Hopefully this call will resonate just as strongly in the future.

If the right wing gains traction, they will have to deal with the feminists and their critique of the state and patriarchy; they will have to deal with the students and the demand for an accessible, high-quality, free, and autonomous education; they will have to deal with the demands of the campesinos that there be no more extractive industries in their land or on indigenous land; they will have to deal with the new Nicaraguan left, which is anti-authoritarian and opposed to corruption; they will have to deal with the people’s demand for transparency and direct democracy. If a new government messes with one sector, they will mess with all sectors—provided the calls for “unity” hold.

The current movements need to provide for the necessities of the people and develop an intersectional understanding of oppression. Hopefully, even if they gain representation in future governments, they will continue to operate outside of the government. All movements need to be vigilant of the economic elite and the political right wing. There is a history of leftists making political deals with the enemy, but if these movements truly invest their power in the people, in politics from bellow, they will become hard to co-opt.

As we look for hope for the future, we must bear in mind the leaderless nature of all the new movements, we must bear in mind all the attempts at self-government and first and foremost the vision of autonomy that has been the main driving factor for campesinos, feminists, students, and other Nicaraguans.

Further Reading

Nicaragua is Not Venezuela and All Governments Lie

Capitalist Development in Nicaragua and the Mirage of the Left

How to Be an Ally to Nicaraguans


Friends and family bearing the coffin containing the body of Gerald Vasquez on July 16. Vasquez, an engineering student, was killed for maintaining a barricade near the Jesus of Divine Mercy church. On the night of July 13, pro-government groups fired on the church for 15 hours while about 100 student protesters who had been forced out of the nearby university hid under pews. Vazquez died on the rectory floor. Afterwards, the church was covered in pro-government graffiti signed “JS” for the Sandinista Youth, Ortega’s shock troops. One slogan proclaimed “my commander stays.”


Appendix I: 19 Reasons Why the Ortega Party Should Go

This is a translation of an article that originally appeared on a Basque feminist site. The original article includes further resources regarding each point. We include it here to give greater context for how participants in the uprising are expressing their grievances.

1) For raping his stepdaughter, Zoilamerica Ortega-Murillo, since she was 12 years old. This occurred even during the Sandinista Revolution in the 1980s. Zoilamerica has been in exile in Costa Rica for years, escaping persecution in Nicaragua. When Zoilamerica denounced Daniel Ortega in the 1990s, for many this marked the beginning of the deterioration of the Sandinista Party, which slowly became the Orteguista Party.

2) Because in the late 1990s, he made a political alliance with right-wing capitalist Arnoldo Aleman, dismantling Nicaragua’s institutionality and creating a two-party system. The Sandinistas, who were still a powerful force in Nicaragua in the 1990s, made a political pact through Daniel Ortega with Arnoldo Aleman in order to run the country together. This was a huge betrayal of the Sandinista Revolution. For many, this was event that betrayed all of Sandinista ideals and began the process of turning Sandinismo into Orteguismo.

3) Because in 2006, he negotiated with the Catholic Church and right-wing political forces to make abortion illegal. In order for Daniel Ortega to win the 2006/2007 presidency, he had to obtain the approval of the Catholic Church, a church that was extremely conservative and right-wing. The church would only give Ortega its blessing if Ortega made abortion illegal. In a poor developing country like Nicaragua, this law affected working class and rural women the most.

4) Because he removed the Comisarias de la Mujer (State Women Centers) and watered-down Ley 779 (Law 779), a law that protected women from sexual violence, giving impunity to men who commit assaults. These women’s centers were designed to protect and expedite women’s and family issues, but after male pressure, they were defunded and are practically non-existent now. The 779 Law was a very progressive law designed by feminist organizations, which was approved but later slowly watered down.

5) For selling the country to foreign enterprises, approving the building of the canal that displaced indigenous and campesino communities, and stripping away natural resources. The canal was never built, but the legal infrastructure to displace and occupy natural and indigenous territory is still in place.

6) Because they changed the constitution in order that Ortega could be re-elected indefinitely and a family member like Rosario Murillo could be Vice-President. Ortega is now on his third term and is not willing to fast-track the next elections.

7) Because he has accelerated the exploitation of natural reserves like Bosawas and Indio Maiz. These two natural resources are protected by the state and should not be used as resources; nevertheless, the state and economic elite benefit from the deforestations of these natural reserves.

8) Because he has constituted a government based on nepotism. The members of his family hold key positions in the government. Daniel Ortega’s sons and daughters are political advisers and control government media and communications.

9) Because he negotiated and allowed the expropriation of indigenous territories, displacing indigenous communities and murdering indigenous leaders. By embracing neoliberalism, Daniel Ortega has created the conditions in which campesinos and monocrop companies can illegally enter indigenous territories and occupy their land.

10) Because he ignored the popular fight against extractivism and gave international mining companies like B2GOLD permission to extract minerals in rural communities. Since Ortega’s presidency in 2007, the campesino movement and figures like Francisca Ramirez have continually protested and mobilized against the extractive industries that affect campesino rural communities and environments the most.

11) Because he has continually harassed and persecuted feminists, human rights groups, and campesino leaders. Before April 2018, it was inconceivable to protest in the streets without being harassed by the Sandinista Youth or the Police. This ensured the supremacy of the Orteguista Party over the public space.

12) Because he has co-opted other political parties and has prevented new political parties from forming and running in the elections. Elections are not internationally supervised and are not transparent. This has generated a large absentee culture. Additionally, he has fired government officials who were not willing to follow his orders or be complicit in fraudulent elections.

13) Because he forces all state employees to attend government marches, and if they don’t attend they will be fired.

14) Because he promoted an inhumane border policy that has left thousands stranded in Costa Rica. The Nicaraguan migration policy prevents hundreds who are trying to reach the Unites States from crossing over into Nicaragua. If you go to the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, you will find camps filled with Latin American and Caribbean families that want to travel through Nicaragua to go north, but the Nicaraguan government won’t allow them through.

15) Because he has used state funds (like the ones in the social security system) to invest in his own family businesses. The Ortega family owns a lot of property and businesses and created their wealth by governing the state.

16) Because there is no transparency in how the government spends the money that arrives from Venezuela or other international cooperation. This money has ensured the Orteguista party’s supremacy.

17) For using his social programs as clientelism, prioritizing aid to only Orteguista party members. He has privatized socialism, in the sense that government social programs are directly tied to pro-government affiliation, rather than to human rights or human dignity.

18) Because he has criminalized protests and murdered hundreds of students, campesinos, women, and children. The Orteguista party, which controls congress, passed an “Anti-Terrorism Law” which gives up to 20 to 30 years of prison to anybody who aides the protests.

19) Because he betrayed Sandinismo. Orteguismo is not the same as Sandinismo. Sandino’s original ideas have been completely ignored and the spirit of the revolution has been co-opted by Daniel Ortega. Ortega has monopolized the left in Nicaragua, not allowing for any leftist critiques of his government.

Appendix II: A Punk Classic

Oi Polloi, “Americans Out,” on US intervention in Nicaragua in the 1980s.


  1. These statistics come from the Centro Nicaraguense de los Derechos Humanos [CENIDH]. The CENIDH report doesn’t discuss which side the deceased identified with, but ANDPH says that the list includes about 48 pro-government paramilitaries, 24 policemen, and one member of the military, with the remainder being protesters and other civilians. It is possible to find sources arguing that the protesters are responsible for many of the killings, but in any case, the protesters are not the ones arresting people or forcing people to leave Nicaragua.

  2. For example, police as well as paramilitaries display the FLSN flag, and children’s history books laud the Ortega government. The day immediately after UNAN was raided by paramilitaries, the FLSN flag was raised on campus.

Tags: NicaraguaCrimethinc.category: Essays
Categories: News

Freedom Club Revived? Netflix Primitivists and the Fascist Creep.

Thu, 08/02/2018 - 15:41

A TV drama has rekindled interest in anti-technology terrorist Ted Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber. Ironically enough, his followers now congregate online.

In 1978 Ted Kaczynski began building letter bombs designed to kill. They were made out of smokeless powder, match heads, nails, potassium nitrate, razor blades, and various other caustic substances. Kaczynski, a former academic and an alumnus of Harvard University, killed three people with these bombs and injured 23 others. His targets were airliners, university professors, and academics. Some of the bombs missed their targets and blew shrapnel into the bodies of postal workers and receptionists. The attacks were unscrupulous and vicious.

Kaczynski, dubbed the Unabomber by the FBI and the media, evaded capture for almost 18 years. He’d been hiding out in a self-contained wood cabin in the forests of Montana, writing a manifesto under the pseudonym “Freedom Club” (or FC) on a portable typewriter. After releasing his 35,000 word manifesto titled “Industrial Society and its Future” to the media in 1995, it became apparent that Kaczynski was fighting, in his mind at least, against the rise of technology and the perceived sickness it had infected the world with. The Unabomber was a militant neo-luddite.

Twenty-two years after Kaczynski’s bombing campaign and imprisonment, he now has a new following. Ironically enough, they all congregate on the internet.

Often characterised by putting pine tree emojis in their names on social media, the new Kaczynski inspired community of self-defined primitivists and neo-luddites is flourishing. They spend hours sharing memes that call for the destruction of modern civilisation, and discuss fringe politics in Twitter group chats or on messaging app Discord. This year they even sent Kaczynski a birthday card. On the face of it, Kaczynski’s new followers are angry, bored, and sick of the modern world.

It’s all been growing rapidly since a TV drama series called Manhunt: Unabomber aired in August 2017. The series tells a fictionalised version of the Unabomber investigation. In the process of catching the elusive felon, the main character, Agent Fitz, pores over Kaczynski’s manifesto until he develops an affinity with it. He comes to the conclusion that while the brutal bombing campaign was wrong, Kaczynski’s theories were actually right. The detective ends up moving into a log cabin in the woods. Kaczynski ends up moving into prison with eight life sentences.

Large parts of the series are factually inaccurate – for example the portrayal of Kaczynski as some kind of CIA experiment gone wrong, and the insinuation that he was mentally ill — but, overall, Manhunt: Unabomber seems to have provided an easily consumable entryway to Kaczynski’s politics for the pine tree community.

Like Agent Fitz in Manhunt, the new Kaczynski followers are drawn to his theories. In this sense, there is somewhat of a Freedom Club revival happening — hundreds of young men seeking to reconnect with nature, as an act of rebellion against the state of Western civilisation, all couched in Ted Kaczynski’s anti-tech ideas.

For a year now I’ve been chatting with various members of the pine tree community. They’re a mixed bag: some seem to actually want the total destruction of modern civilisation, and long for some kind of apocalyptic future; some are sick of the mainstream’s political correctness; some are, of course, just shit-posting. But all of them are disgusted with modernity. In an age of hyper-consumerism and ecological destruction, the pine trees don’t see a place for themselves anywhere within the current system. They long for something radical. “Modernity crushes your soul,” says Regi, who’s been part of the pine tree community from the beginning. “We see our jobs as soul crushing. Modern life is safe and boring and lacking cohesion. Many strive for a more simple and practical existence.”

Regi, 18, became aware of Kaczynski’s crimes and manifesto in December 2017 after seeing Manhunt: Unabomber memes posted online. He got hold of a copy of the manifesto and was immediately converted. “I read the manifesto and it blew my mind,” he said. “I thought it was a work of genius.”

In the six months I’ve been speaking to Regi, he’s gone from meme-posting daily about how much he wants the modern world to collapse, to actually going out and spending time immersed in nature, hiking through the forests where he lives in Canada. He’s seen online less and less.

But Kaczynski’s terrorism hasn’t influenced Regi. He doesn’t agree with his brutal murders and doesn’t believe that they were justified, as some pine trees do. “Killing innocents isn't a good thing and I find his justification for it shitty,” said Regi. “If he wanted to kill someone, why not assassinate like, Steve Jobs, or one of those corporate assholes?”

Like Regi, most of the new young Kaczynskites don’t actually want to set the world on fire. They’re probably not about to start building bombs in their kitchens or ditching their smartphones to live in the woods. But they do feel something is wrong. Between the memes you see these young men putting on their timelines – often anything that mocks “society” or a semi-ironic wish for a war they can die in — you’ll see a genuine fury at the seemingly endless cycle of nature being destroyed in pursuit of profit. That’s not to say they side with environmentalists though — in fact, they laugh in the face of organisations like Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund. Their argument is that these people all work within “the system”, so how can they really change anything? The pine trees feel it’s all a little too late.

To quote the Dark Mountain Project, a group of former ecologists who went rogue and came around to a similar way of thinking as Kaczynski, “We were disillusioned with the state of environmentalism. It seemed that sustainability had come to mean sustaining the Western way of living at all costs.” Through their crass shit-posting and memes about militant groups like the Animal Liberation Front, the pine trees are often trying to say the same thing, albeit through the haze of a 21st century internet subculture.

But war and conflict are a constant presence on pine trees' timelines. They spread their message through tweeting things like “SHUT THE FUCK UP URBANITE!” at tech-bros, “normies”, or basically anyone who doesn’t agree with them. Instead of engaging others in public debate, they’d rather trash them. They don’t want allies. And the aesthetics of war plays a big part too. Photos of the Provisional IRA, the EZLN, and even Russian-backed separatists in east Ukraine are often posted alongside joking messages such as “I wish that were me”. One user, Ecoretard, recently tweeted: “Can I get [an] urban conflict with a faction I support so I can die for something I believe in?”

The glorification of war is perhaps another way of expressing their frustration at feeling trapped. As Regi says, “Modern life is safe and boring”. War, or at least the glorification of it, is not.

Now, this community of Kaczynski adherents, misfits, and so-called political extremists, is less a cohesive movement than a loosely connected online subculture. For a while though, there was a pine tree leader of sorts. He was less concerned with the shit-posting and more seriously occupied with the Kaczynski worldview. His name is Rin. He wanted to build an “organisation” of “dedicated people”. He indexed Kaczynski’s prison letters, memorised paragraph numbers of the manifesto, and corralled the first new wave of Kaczynskites into a community. Rin, 24, also ran the most extensive online Kaczynski archive that has probably ever existed. That is until he pulled it all down in disgust last month.

“I decided to dedicate myself to the Ted Kaczynski project because everyone was talking about the Unabomber, but nobody was talking about Ted Kaczynski’s ideas,” Rin says.

Rin has been involved in post-leftist and green-anarchist politics since he was 18. He lives in “a Spanish speaking country”, considers himself a neo-luddite, and tries to follow the teachings of Kaczynski wherever possible. I’ve spent a lot of time in the last six months debating Rin and discussing his radical ideology with him. He’s intelligent and well-read. Despite his preoccupation with Kaczynski, I never got the impression that Rin is actually dangerous, although he can most definitely be considered a Kaczynski sympathiser. He used to run three different Twitter accounts, two of which were the Ted Kaczynski Archive and Ted Was Right. Kaczynski’s victims are never a focus of his discussion and simply shrugged off as a consequence of war.

When Rin noticed the emergence of a small online community of young men interested in all things Unabomber at the start of 2018, he began to round them up. He formed a group chat on Twitter and a radical book club where he would suggest new political literature for the pine trees. He and the rest of them embraced edgy irony and warlike aesthetics as a means to draw the youth in further. It was all very deliberate.

“Manhunt: Unabomber was the perfect breeding ground to introduce the ideology to suitable people,” Rin says. “The people attracted to the ideas began interacting with each other and formed themselves [into] a social base. They were able to form a community and slowly develop a culture. This is what eventually became Prim Twitter [Primitivist Twitter being another name for the pine tree community].”

Whilst the pine tree members were from a variety of different political milieus, they were all united by Rin under a popular front that “embraced collapse” and “loved nature”.

But Rin’s place at the head of the community didn’t last. His own creation began to morph into something unforgivably ugly, when some members began drifting from edgy luddite memes and the embrace of wild nature, to outright far-right ideologies. “Some in the community began flirting with fascism,” Rin says. “And not the left-wing type where everything they dislike is labelled ‘fascism’ — but actual genuine fascism. That was the final drop in the bucket for me. Totalitarian ideologies like fascism and communism are something I'm extremely hostile against.”

Rin is quick to emphasise that despite many on the left considering Kaczynski a fascist (mostly due to the fact he attacked them constantly in his manifesto), he actually describes fascism as “kook ideology” (“page 150 of his book Technological Slavery!”) and says Nazi ideology is “evil” in one of his letters. Rin also points out that Kaczynski has never tried to align himself with fascists, he was in favour of radical black liberation groups, and always saw green anarchist types as his natural comrades. This doesn’t change the fact that many fascist groups today use Kaczynski as an icon. Even Atomwaffen Division, the esoteric neo-Nazi militant group in the US, have made graphics using his face.

Some of the pine tree community are now splintering off into different groups, deviating from Kaczynski’s work to that of Pentti Linkola, who is a self-described eco-fascist. This coincides with new ecologically-focused Neo-Nazi groups that are now cropping up. Green fringe politics is all very much in vogue on the internet, as is the resurgence of neo-fascism. The two are starting to merge.

Rin scrapped his online Kaczynski archive in June due to the creep of fascism amongst the pine trees. But he still believes that a new generation of neo-luddism is coming.

“There is very much an interest in Ted Kaczynski growing deep down,” he says. “It's in its infancy, but it seems Ted being in prison has finally paid off. He’s gotten some extremely dedicated neo-luddites ready to contribute to the collapse of technological society.”

Rin may sound militant, but the likelihood of a major neo-luddite terror attack remains pretty low. The Freedom Club revival is still mostly spreading via memes online, not via letter bombs. The idea that our interaction with technology has reached a crisis point, is spreading further than the pine tree fringe ideology though. This year the theme has been featured often in the press. Even Silicon Valley, which made tech junkies out of us all, is having a twinge of guilt. Some reformed tech-bros have created “humane tech” organisations such as the Time Well Spent movement, founded by former Google employee Tristan Harris.

The pine tree community is a radical response to what writer Grafton Tanner once called “the mall”: a digital hellscape where people are nostalgic for something that never existed, constantly “doped on consumer goods, energy drinks, and Apple products.”

In Rin’s opinion, it’s all falling down already. “Our technological civilisation is complex and unsustainable. Its breakdown is inevitable," he says. "It will be slow and boring, but technological civilisation has already signed its death warrant.”

By Jake Hanrahan on Wired
https://www.wired.co.uk/article/unabomber-netflix-tv-series-ted-kaczynski

Tags: ted kaczynskianti-civuncle tedeco-fascismprimitivismmemenot anarchistcategory: Essays
Categories: News

Greece, State terrorism: Torture on the back streets of Athens

Thu, 08/02/2018 - 14:37

via act for freedom now!

On Thursday 27th of July around 2 in the morning in Athens, on Bouboulinas st. in Exachia neighborhood, a squadron of greek cops kidnapped and tortured an anarchist immigrant. Straight away they began to torture me with a barrage of kicks, using racist and fascist insults. Meanwhile, the police stated that my offense is that I am an anarchist and belong to a known political group of Exarchia. Then the squadron of riot cops forced me into a dark alley. They laid me on the ground and they tried to break my ribs by kicking; I placed my hand on my ribs to protect them. They took away my hand from my ribs and tried to break my fingers with their shields. In order to protect my fingers, I pulled my hand under my belly. At that moment, they hit my ribs again to break them. This action lasted a long time, until one of the cops proposed to break my wrists. So they placed my hands on the curb stone to break them with batons, but I managed to pull my hands away. This escalated their anger, and by saying fascist and racist insults, they all started to beat me.

They beat me for more than one and a half hours. All the while they were taking several photos of me getting beaten up, as well as when I was lying semi conscious on the street. When cops realized that my body had been seriously damaged and I was not able to move, they started to play a game with me, telling me “you have ten seconds to leave from here, if we catch you again, we will kill you”, and two cops moved a little bit ahead of me to catch me again. They hit my knee several times with batons to make sure that I can not escape. When one of them turned to look behind him, with all of the pain that I had, I started running. One of the cops tried to catch me again but I could escape by running up Tositsa and seek help at a nearby house of comrades.

Solidarity paramedics came immediately and after examination, told me I should go to hospital. There they found that aside from severe bruising all over my body and head wounds, I aslo had a fructured spinal joint.

Exarchia, as an area with self-organized projects and revolutionary struggle, is under constant attack from the state because it is part of international social struggle against capitalism, mafia, terrorism and generally the system. Exarchia is a zone of defense where different groups exist together to fight for freedom and equality against the oppression of the system. By mutual cooperation we can meet the needs of each other without any authority. For this struggle the state beats us.

The state by placing permanent police forces in the perimeter of Exarchia has made a kind of border between us and the rest of Athens, so it is as if they put us in a kind of prison. At the moment we have no other way to resist this prison except riots against the military check points. One of the reasons that the cops wanted to break my wrists is because as they said, I am one of those who participate in the riots. Many persons usually participate in these clashes with the police forces, because they do not want to be in prison, because they do not want control from any authority.

As an immigrant anarchist I understand that the struggle for freedom is common between locals and migrants. For this reason I work towards unity and making collective body between locals and migrants. We will not fight only for immigrants but for everyone, because we understand that our pain, our problems are the same.

Immigrants are under constant attack from the state and facists and it does not matter what kind of goverment is in power, whether it is ultra-right or leftist goverment. SYRIZA present themselves as supporters of immigrants but the reality is they imprison migrants on mass scale, every day they deport and kill people at the borders. We know that all authority is our enemy.

In Exarchia today immigrants are under increasing threat of repression. Recently they began to make police sweep operations on the square arresting any migrant that is there. At the same time there are groups in Exarchia who act like police, using the same tactics, like pogroms on the square against migrants. Such as a group known as security team, military part of the political group “Antiauthoritarian Movement” (AK), who have relation with the government and present themselves as supporters of immigrants, but instead they use immigrants as a cover for their mafia business. As an immigrant I have to say to such groups: stop using our name for your dirty business.

It is clear that cops and mafia work together for the same purpose: control and the crushing of resistance.

The message of this violent attack by the pigs was: to terrorize immigrants, anarchists and those who actively resist and fight the police. We shall not kneal down. The state’s violence make it more clear that our struggle is just.

COPS MAFIA MURDERERS

source

Tags: Greeceathensanarchists in troublecategory: International
Categories: News

France - Request for release of anarchist Kreme

Thu, 08/02/2018 - 14:32

via act for freedom now

On 21st June the last person imprisoned following the Quai de Valmy case appeared before a sentencing-execution judge regarding a request for reduction of the sentence.

This person has been held for almost a year and a half and the release date is set for February 2019. The hearing took place 9 months after the request was submitted, even if the deadline established by law is 4 months. The prison administration and the prosecutor expressed opposition to his release, on the basis of his stubborn silence concerning the events. The judge decided to issue a verdict on 11th July.

Apparently it was not sufficient to reach a decision with three-weeks’ delay, three weeks of waiting and hoping. On 11th July silence from the judge, and on12th we learned that the decision had been postponed to ‘the beginning of next week’. These constant setbacks, be they deliberate or due to the negligence of those who hold others’ freedom in their hands, wreck prisoners’ and their loved ones’ nerves. They lead to impotence generated by the situation of being trapped in the prison machine. Considering that many prisoners don’t know the law at all, don’t have anybody and some don’t even know French, we can imagine how many find themselves completely in the hands of prison arbitrariness. We’ve already seen people remain inside even if they had been eligible for release for several days, without getting the chance to understand what was going on.

As the prison administration and the State are trying to break prisoners and their loved ones with large and small arbitrary and abusive measures, let’s put a stick in the wheel of the all too well functioning system.

Any day spent in jail is a day too many!

Let’s destroy all prisons!

Update on 17th July: the sentencing-execution judge rejected the request for release.

anarhija.info

Translated from Italian by act for freedom now!

Tags: Franceanarchist prisonercategory: Prisoners
Categories: News

Italy – A new book published by Edizioni Monte Bove

Thu, 08/02/2018 - 14:17

via act for freedom now!

The book Poesie dialettali di lotta e di protesta – scritte dal 1985 al 1989 [Dialectal poems of struggle and protest – 1985 to 1989] by Domenico Salemme is available within the collection “La Sibilla”. Preface and introductory notes by Franco Di Gioia

Domenico Salemme is no professional poet – he’s a proletarian and an anarchist from Calabria who chants simple concepts in theses verses, mostly addressed to his fellow townspeople in Grisolia (CS): from sneering at the election swindle and its protagonists to the denunciation of the conditions of misery which the State and capital force on the poorest, from the tragedy of migration to life in prison. Words that were often read, leafletted and handed out at outdoor anarchist talks. Domenico decided to publish the poems because people are always asking for them. Even if they were written in the 80s they are still totally topical because they talk about problems we still experience today.

“Quantu dispiaceri e divisiuni creja l’immigraziuni

ma da sembri l’anu vulutu lu Statu e li patruni”.

[So much pain and division immigration creates

but the State and the bosses have always wanted it]

Edizioni Monte Bove ☾ La Sibilla €5

Per information and orders write to: lunanera@mortemale.org

via: anarhija.info

Translated by Act for freedom now!

Tags: italypoetryDomenico Salemmecategory: Projects
Categories: News

Anarchist Zines & Pamphlets Published in July 2018

Thu, 08/02/2018 - 14:02

via sprout distro

The following zines and pamphlets were published within the broad anarchist space during the month of July. We encourage you to print these zines out and read them away from a screen (maybe in the woods?). Use them to have discussions, as catalysts for new projects, as tools to sharpen your analysis, etc. We’ve heard that people use these posts to print zines to table at events with, to make packages to send to prisoners, and as fodder for those Little Free Library boxes that have become popular over the past several years.

If you have suggestions for titles to include next month, please get in touch. Previous months of these posts are available here.

Anarchist Zines Published in July 2018 Montreal Counter-Information #6

montreal counter-info #6This issue of the regular Montreal Counter-Information publication features reports and communiques from a number of recent actions in the Montreal area. The recent G7 summit held in June in Quebec City looms large this issue, with a statement from the “Popular Expression Zone”, a report of anti-G7 sabotage, and a banner drop. There are also reports on anti-fascist and anti-prison organizing. This publication gives a good overview of what seems to be a vibrant and confrontational anarchist space.

Download the PDF

Against the Machine: Selected Writings from Plain Words

against the machine zineThis zine collects writings from Plain Words – an anarchist publication out of Bloomington, Indiana – around the broad subject of technology. In assembling these pieces, the editors write:

“Rather than shame people for using their smartphones in public, these writings are meant to demonstrate what we have to gain by fighting against the techno-nightmare. Specifically, they describe how these technologies impoverish our relationships, and dull our capacity for combative social struggle.”

The editors explain that much of the theoretical writing in Plain Words has been about technology, so a collection critiquing technology seemed appropriate.

Download a Screen Reading or Imposed PDF

SLAP Issues #8 and #9

slap issue #9These are two recent issues of the Squatters Action of London Action Paper (SLAP) which is a publication produced by and for squatters in London. The publications feature a DIY copy-and-paste aesthetic with updates on recently established squats and evictions, events of interest to squatters, squatting history, international squatting news and more. SLAP offers a nice glimpse into the squatting scene.

Download a PDF of Issue #8 and Issue #9

Against Eco-Extremism: Mirror Image of Civilisation & Religion

against eco-extremism coverThis is a collection of essays from the perspective of “anarchist-insurrectionalists and nihilist-anarchists” critical of the idea of “eco-extremism” that has gained some degree of notoriety over the past few years. The tendency – associated with the groups Individualists Tending Toward the Wild (ITS) and Wild Reaction in Mexico – was built on a practice of attacks (explosives, letter bombs, and murder) accompanied by lengthy communiques. The numerous essays in this collection respond from an anarchist perspective, raising questions about the eco-extremist tendency and engaging critically with their writings. There have been a handful of other anarchist critiques of this tendency, but this collection is the strongest. It also doesn’t come from a leftist perspective which allows it to move beyond the limits of some of the other critiques of eco-extremism that have been circulated.

Download a PDF

Fuck Abuse, Kill Power

fuck abuse, kill power zine coverThis is a zine by Crimethinc that responds to the discussions of sexual assault and sexual harassment brought to the fore over the past year by the #MeToo movement. Whereas much of the mainstream discourse has focused on individual behavior and highlighted the ways in which corporations and the the courts can respond to sexual assault, this zine argues that a deeper analysis is needed that situates these actions as a part of a system of patriarchy rather than discrete individual behaviors by a handful of bad men.

Download a PDF

We Are Being Doxxed: What To Do To Help Keep Each Other Safe

we are being doxxed coverThis is a short zine that provides a collection of helpful tips on how to avoid doxxing by alt-right and other adversaries. It encourages readers to take a minute to review their practices and to seriously consider their data security. There are tips on passwords, social media, email, and more. It is essential reading for anyone doing anarchist things in the contemporary period. The folks who made the zine have also produced a website – digitaldefense.noblogs.org – that contains additional information on the topics discussed in the zine.

Download the PDF

Starting an Anarchist Black Cross Group: A Guide

starting an anarchist black cross zineThis is an excellent guide to starting an Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) group to do anti-repression work in solidarity with prisoners and broader struggles. It does a good job of explaining the type of work that ABC groups do (prisoner support and anti-repression) and offering practical tips and suggestions on how to actually do the work. It covers the history of the ABC, offers ideas for getting a group started and keeping it going, and includes a list of important resources. This is a very solid effort that will hopefully lead to the proliferation of more ABC groups.

Download a Printable or Screen Reading PDF

An Anarchist Report Back and Some Embedded Critiques of #OccupyICE Philadelphia

anarchists on #occupyice philadelphiaThis zine recounts the experience of some anarchists who attempted to engage with the #OccupyICE action in Philadelphia. In many ways the experiences related within are pretty predictable, as anyone who has been attempting to do anarchist organizing for any length of time has likely come into contact with the types of leftist protest managers described within. The protest managers and leftists are those who seek to pacify and control revolt rather than allowing it to spread with attempts at censoring individuals, using political maneuvering to marginalize anarchists, and snitch-jacketing being common tactics. However, the while that may be disappointing, the practical suggestions offered in the text are helpful and if the critiques are spread widely enough, it might mean that things go better the next time around.

Download a Printable or Screen Reading PDF

Return Fire #5

return fire #5This is the latest issue of Return Fire, an anarchist publication that is critical of civilization. The cover emphasizes the values of “anti-authority, daily revolt, individual will, and de-civilisation.” It has a number of articles critical of technology and civilization alongside communiques, action reports, and articles on the land. In many ways, it feels reminiscent of the publication Green Anarchy which was published in the early to mid 2000s.

Download PDFs of the Contents and Cover (Color or Black & White)

The Local Kids #1

This is a new anarchist publication that offers a number of texts that seem to be recently translated into English. They include writings on insurrectionary anarchism, technology, the repression around the G20 summit in Hamburg last year, and a critical engagement with the text “An Invitation to Desertion” which appeared in the new anarchist publication Backwoods. This is a promising first issue!

Download a Printable or Screen Reading PDF

Anathema – July 2018

anathema - july 2018 coverThis is the latest issue of Anathema, an anarchist publication out of Philadelphia. It features the regular action updates along with several articles relating to recent activity in the city. There are pieces on the #OccupyICE encampment and anarchists’ experiences engaging with it (largely centered on the conflicts and the anti-anarchist sentiment expressed by some of the organizers). There is also a short write-up on the queer anarchist group Bash Back! and a piece reflecting on a squatted garden in the city.

Download a Printable or Screen Reading PDF

Butterflies, Polyamory & Ideology: Letter on Inconsequence

butterflies, polyamory, & ideology coverThis is an English translation of a text that appeared in 2013 in France. It is a thought-provoking piece that aims to raise questions about the ideological relations that govern the modes of thought found in anti-authoritarian milieus. From the introduction to the French version:

“If this text is not just another text on the affects, it’s because it is foremost a text on ideology, on scenes and milieus, on inconsistency and leftism. The way it managed to echo many and varied situations that do not necessarily involve emotional relationships, but numerous other issues such as power relations, the conformity of an anti-conformist milieu, how alternatives become the norm, social roles, individual patterns of consumerism, struggles and the tools of struggles etc., make it a text whose primary purpose is to open a debate that will exceed it.”

This version was put together by Untorelli Press.

Download a Printable or Screen Reading PDF

The Struggle Against Fascism in DC: An Incomplete History of Anti-Fascism inside the Beltway

struggle against fascism in dc zine coverThis is a new zine by Crimethinc highlighting anti-fascist organizing in Washington DC over the past 20 years or so. The impetus behind this history is the upcoming “Unite the Right 2” event which is being planned by white supremacists to celebrate the anniversary of their 2017 rally in Charlottesville. This zine provides look back at the variety of forms that anti-fascism has taken in Washington DC. These efforts have ranged from street protests and canceling white supremacist speeches to community organizing efforts in solidarity with immigrants. It is a good reminder that anti-fascism was an important struggle before Donald Trump was elected.

Download a Printable or Screen Reading PDF

Socialism will be Free, or it will not be at all! An Intro to Libertarian Socialism

socialism will be free zine coverThis is a new primer on libertarian socialism (a term sometimes used to refer to anarchism) by the Black Rose Anarchist Federation. As such, it provides an introduction to their specific brand of anarchism which is centered on the working class. It’s heavily oriented towards the debate over the word “socialism” and whether or not that means state socialism, social democracy, or libertarian socialism. It spends a lot of time discussing state socialism vs. libertarian socialism while articulating a vision of socialism from below. It’s a relatively familiar argument for anyone who’s been around a while, but updated with a few digs at Bernie Sanders.

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There’s Nothing Anarchist about Eco-Fascism

there's nothing anarchist about eco-extremismThis zine produced by Its Going Down compiles two essays by author Scott Campbell critical of eco-extremist actions in Mexico committed by Individualists Tending Towards the Wild (ITS) and the various splinter groups that have issued similar communiques. The first essay “There’s Nothing Anarchist About Eco-Fascism” criticizes the actions of ITS, which the author declares are “proudly terroristic” and should be met with the same condemnation that anarchists use against the fascists of ISIS. The second piece, “Not Our Comrades”, focuses on the attacks that eco-extremists have undertaken against anarchists which have been both rhetorical and physical. Together, the essays call for anarchists to stop supporting and promoting ITS.

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Community Struggle and Political Repression in Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón: The Case of Miguel Peralta Betanzos

zine coverThis pamphlet provides a look at the struggles of the indigenous community of Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón and one of its prisoners, anarchist Miguel Peralta Betanzos. The birthplace of Ricardo Flores Magón, Eloxochitlán has been the site of intense struggle for community autonomy, territorial defense, and against the imposition of political parties. The pamphlet contains articles about the history and struggle of Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, letters and statements from other political prisoners from the community, and a collection of writings by Miguel Peralta Betanzos.

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Wild and Criminal: Anthology of Prison Chronicles

anthology of prison chronicles coverThis is a collection of writings, reflections, and poetry from members of the Cimarrón Collective, a group initiated by the recently released anarchist prisoner Fernando Bárcenas. As they explain it, “In a certain way, this material is the result of constant efforts at the individual and collective reclamation of life, lived and shared in its own way so as to make resistance inside these walls possible.”

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Salvo: Summer 2018

salvo #5 coverThis is the most recent edition of Salvo, an “autonomous anti-capitalist newspaper and media project” out of Southern California. This edition includes articles on topics including: guns, capital vs. the environment, organizing in the Asian American community in the greater Los Angeles area, and family separations at the border. This issue also includes an interview with members of the Occupy I.C.E. L.A. Encampment.

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Atubes: July 2018

ATubes July 2018This is the July 2018 issue of the semi-regular “Digest of the Anarchist Tubes” published by Anarchistnews.org. This issue consists entirely of comments published on the website over the past month. None of the original articles are included, just a selection of comments. They range from one sentence to a paragraph long in length.

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Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library – July 2018

KSL Bulletin July 2018The most recent issue of the KSL Bulletin features the usual mix of articles on anarchist history and reviews of recently published historical works. This issue features an interview with a member of Class War Bristol on anarchism in the 1980s, a review of the new book A Towering Flame: The Life and Times of Peter the Painter, a review of Albert Meltzer’s memoir of anarchists in London from 1935-1955, and a number of updates on new historical anarchist material available online. This remains one of the best sources for anarchist history.

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Tags: Sprout distrozinespamphletscategory: Projects
Categories: News

Greece: Fighting the TAP (The Trans Adriatic Pipeline)

Thu, 08/02/2018 - 13:49

via act for freedom now

Fighting the TAP – Brochure – GR

Selection of Texts:
1 / Fighting the TAP
3 / Some notes on the TAP
11 / From the other side
23 / Laughing underneath
25 / What’s the purpose of energy?
35 / War comes home
37 / Some useful addresses

Translation introduction in English:

Fighting the TAP

The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is being built to transport natural gas from the Caspian sea to Europe. The pipeline would start near the Greek village Kipoi at the border with Turkey (where it is connected with the Trans Anatolian Pipeline). From there it would cross the north of Greece for 550 kilometers, then would go into Albania from where it would cross the Adriatic sea to reach the mainland again in Salento, Italy. Along the trajectory in Greece the pipeline would consist of 22 block valve stations (points on which the pipeline can be closed, for example for safety or maintenance reasons), one compression station near Kipoi, and one compression station near Serres (in which the pressure is highered to optimize transportation). The project started to be developed in 2003, in 2015 the actual works started in Albania. In the mean time the works have started as well in Italy as in Greece.

The texts published here were written in Italy, where a struggle against this project of power is taking place. The texts speak about the specificities of this project and its direct responsibles, about the ecological destruction and the militarization of territories, but also about the symbolic value of this project for the economy, the state, and oppression in general. The texts focus on this specific element of the system, but with a constant eye on the wider reality, the whole of domination which it is a part of. These texts intend nothing but the encouragement of everybody, where ever or with how many they may be, to sabotage and attack this project, those who will profit from it, and the existent it will serve.

Finally, or better to begin with, the following texts propose to anyone who wants to fight this pipeline a method, a way of struggling. They emphasize the possibility and importance to fight in an autonomous, anti-institutional and direct way, to sabotage and destroy what is destroying us.

How could we fight the world of politics using politics? How could we fight the world of authority creating ourselves leaders and little chiefs? How could we fight this world that tries to disown us of any real autonomy, by delegating ourselves parts of our struggles to the media or the public opinion? We can not, we would be fooling ourselves. In how we go at the confrontation with this world, we carry ideas of a new and totally different world. And these ideas come to life here and now, in our revolt against domination.

Athens 2018

Tags: GreeceTAPtrans-adriatic pipelinecategory: Projects
Categories: News

Who is Cody Wilson, the man behind the 3D printed gun?

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 18:28

via CNN Tech

In 2013, at a firing range outside of Austin, Texas, Cody Wilson pulled the trigger on the world's first fully 3D printed gun.

Not long after, he posted the blueprint for the weapon to his website, DefCad.com, allowing anyone to download directions to manufacture an untraceable plastic gun at home. The plans were downloaded more than 100,000 times before the government ordered him to take them down.

Wilson sued the government in 2015 and a settlement was reached in June that allowed the blueprints for Wilson's gun -- along with several other weapons -- to legally be posted online. Gun safety groups and dozens of states filed lawsuits to stop the plans from becoming downloadable.

The night before all of Wilson's blueprints were set to go live online, a federal judge blocked the government from allowing the distribution of 3D printable guns.

Wilson's goal is to make his Austin-based nonprofit Defense Distributed a digital hub for do-it-yourself gun-making -- a sort of Wikipedia of weapons manufacturing. Not only can you visit the site to download blueprints to guns, but users will also be able to upload blueprints for guns of their own design -- a feature Wilson hopes will lead to "types of guns that haven't existed before," he says.

"If people have an internet resource of some type of encyclopedic scope," he told CNNMoney's Laurie Segall, "it should allow for more innovation in the space."

His website is down after the judge's ruling Tuesday.


Don't call him a startup founder

Wilson is the founder of a tech company, although he doesn't describe himself that way. Despite the technical feat of creating the first-ever 3D printed plastic gun and then building a digital community around that invention, he classifies Defense Distributed not as a tech company, but as a "nonprofit defense firm." His customers create accounts on DefCad.com, and then they are free download plans and contribute data to the site.

Wilson does not portray himself as a CEO who's trying to build a profitable business and disrupt the way we live. Instead, he identifies as more of a political figure -- an anarchist, fighting against what he views as government censorship.

Related: Divided We Code

"I'm a radical individualist," Wilson told Segall in 2017. "I don't like the imposition of state controls over human flourishing and creativity, freedom, individuality. And so, the way to oppose these things is to undermine the powers of traditional liberal institutions."

According to Wilson, founding Defense Distributed was another way to oppose what he thinks is censorship at the hands of the United States government. By suing the government for violating his First Amendment rights, he shifted the focus of the debate about 3D printed guns away from gun control to a discussion about access to data and information online.

"I want people to know that it's legal to publish this information online," he says. "Do public libraries perform background checks on people before they read books? That's just not how speech and publication works."


Hatreon

Defense Distributed hasn't been Wilson's only foray into defending freedom of speech online. Last year, as prominent figures in the Alt-Right were being kicked off of Patreon, a fundraising site, he formed a rival platform -- Hatreon.

"The site exists with only the promise that you won't be silenced," he told CNN in 2017. "On Hatreon, there's no way your political speech can be deemed unacceptable. There's an unlimited protection of speech."

Currently, the Hatreon site is down. But while it was up and running, those registered on the site had raised more than $20,000, according to Wilson.

In CNN's 2017 special Divided We Code, he said "The Alt-Right is joining it. They get a lot of the money, the lion's share of the money for now, because they know they can go there and not be censored."

Although Wilson acknowledges that allowing all kinds of speech can lead to hateful statements and even violence, he takes no responsibility for the possible outcomes of allowing any kind of speech on his platforms.

"Any book is, in the right hands, like a grenade. This can't be controlled and we shouldn't try to control it," he told CNN. "These personalities that use Hatreon ... are at worst trolls, performance artists, provocateurs, vulgarians. At best, they represent through their hyperbole or through their extreme thinking and presentations elements of a political speech that should not be censored."

While he says he'll follow the law and draw the line at allowing barred foreign nationals, governments and terrorists from downloading blueprints to 3D printable guns, Wilson's line of thinking on the consequences of allowing any kind of speech also extend to Defense Distributed, despite the fact that the site democratizes the ability to make deadly weapons -- possibly allowing them to get into the wrong hands. For Wilson, it comes down to that one word: democratization.

"I don't believe that access to information is ever tremendously negative or a bad thing. I know that people can use information for bad things. But this isn't a justification to what, stop a publisher from speaking," he says. "Is democracy dangerous or not? Can people be trusted or not?"

Tags: cody wilsonguns3d printingcrypto-anarchismMSMcategory: Other
Categories: News

Notes from underground: Dostoyevsky’s anarchism

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 17:29

via autonomies

“What is hell?” And I am reasoning thus: “The suffering that comes from the consciousness that one is no longer able to love.”

Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

 

“It is life, life that matters, life alone – the continuous and everlasting process of discovering it – and not the discovery itself.”

Dostoyevsky, The Idiot

 

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in a letter speaking of his The Brothers Karamazov, declares that his principal aim in writing the novel, a civic duty no less, is the defeat of “anarchism”.

How can we then suggest to speak of Dostoyevsky’s anarchism? And yet we dare to do so, navigating our way through the extremes of the underground and the modern social conformity of the many, of the nihilists and decadent aristocrats, of the social reformers and a Church oblivious to the kingdom of heaven. Our journey’s end is to be found in the many voices of Dostoyevsky’s world, in a polyphony that cannot be silenced without impoverishing that world. Among these many voices, we find the braying of mules, the tortured crying of children, the virtue of women and friends, the dissonance of idiots and the enthusiasm of those who have experienced, however fleetingly, the immensity and self-sufficient beauty and goodness of life. What binds all of these disparate voices together, and only this power or force can do so, is love. And it is Dostoyevsky’s boundless love of life that we will risk to call his anarchism.

Notes from underground

With maladroit artistry, we re-imagine Dostoyevsky’s underground …

We are so unused to living that we no longer know or feel “real life”. Any memory of it has been erased. We have really gone so far as to think of real life as immediate, consumable pleasure, mediated only by money, and we are all agreed, for our part, that it is better simulated through images, something to be experienced in the sleep of representation, in obligatory “spectacles of happiness”. And what is it we sometimes scratch about for, what do we cry for, what do we beg for? More of the same: images to numb ourselves by … or perhaps, in sleep, in passing, we admit that we ourselves don’t know, and that if whims we have, they are so uncertain, or threatening, that they can be either dismissed or treated. And it would be worse for us if our stupid whims were indulged. … After all, we don’t even know where “real life” is lived nowadays, or what it is, what name it goes by. Leave us to ourselves, without our images, without our seductive “entertainment”, and at once we get into a muddle and lose our way – we don’t know whose side to be on or where to give our allegiance, what to love and what to hate, what to respect and what to despise, except to what eases our way against what stands against our satisfaction. We even find it difficult to be human beings, men with real flesh and blood, creatures of singular desires; we are ashamed of it, we think it a disgrace, and are always striving to be some unprecedented kind of individual, while we are evermore the same, an always potentially superfluous someone who exists only through work and consuming. We are born dead, and moreover we have ceased to be the sons of living parents; and we become more and more contented with our condition. We are acquiring a taste for it. We have invented a method of being born from a general mould, a uniform idea to which all submit, willingly. But that’s enough; I shall write no more from the underground …

The underground from which Dostoyevsky writes his notes is not a place of refuge for subversion and rebellion, somehow hardened against the siren songs of rational civilisation. It is instead the mirror image of a society that has reduced women and men to calculable and manageable agents of rational self-interest. The underground is the “space” of resentment against the illusions of civilisation, while also the product of civilisation, the “place” to where human desire is abandoned and where it consumes itself in impotent and feverish self-reflection.

In fact, the underground is no place at all; it is rather the inverted image of policed society.

Modern civilisation is the triumph of instrumental rationality, of a rationality limited to the evaluation of means for the attainment of mensurable ends, of the rational necessity of acting for a “common good” defined scientifically and socially engineered politically.

But “can man’s interests be correctly calculated? Are there not some which not only have not been classified, but are incapable of classification?”

“After all, gentlemen”, writes the man from the underground to the civilised, “as far as I know you deduce the whole range of human satisfactions as averages from statistical figures and scientifico-economic formulas. You recognise things like wealth, freedom, comfort, prosperity, and so on as good, so that a man who deliberately and openly went against that tabulation would in your opinion, and of course in mine also, be an obscurantist or else completely mad, wouldn’t he? But there is one very puzzling thing: how does it come about that all the statisticians and experts and lovers of humanity, when they enumerate the good things of life, always omit one particular one? They don’t even take it into account as they ought, and the whole calculation depends on it. After all, it would not do much harm to accept this as a good and add it to the list. But the snag lies in this; that this strange benefit won’t suit any classification or fit into any list.”

What good is this that resists classification, analysis, control? What good is such that it must be excluded from the horizon of “civilisation”, failing which all that it stands upon crumbles?

There is security in order, a peaceful sleep induced by the daydream that all can be vanquished by the knowledgeable mastery and elimination of its causes. And as all that is or occurs has antecedent and knowable causes, then a scientific intervention in the chains of events can redirect matters in self-interested directions. But either such a vision is sophistry, or it announces the end of humankind.

“If, for example, it can one day be worked out and proved to me that I have on some occasion cocked a snook at somebody simply because I could not help it, and that I was obliged to make the gesture in that particular way, then what freedom remains to me, especially if I am learned and have taken a science course somewhere? After all, in that case I can calculate my life for thirty years in advance; in short, if things turn out in this way, there won’t be anything left for us to do; all the same, we shall need to understand. But in general we ought always to be telling ourselves that, inevitably, at certain times and in certain circumstances nature will not consult us; that we must take her as she is and not as we fancy her to be, and if we really are progressing at great speed towards the tables and almanacs and … even the test-tube, there’s no help for it, we must accept even the test-tube!”

And yet if the “underground” teaches anything, it is that reason, though a good thing, “satisfies only man’s intellectual faculties”. And what is thereby ignored is volition. This is a word that means much more than “will” for Dostoyevsky: “it is a manifestation of the whole of life, I mean the whole of human life including both reason and speculation.” It is what we are tempted to call our being-in-the-world, a being that is multiple, changing, driven by desires and marked by contingency. Dostoyevsky’s triumphal reason is the effort to distill our singularities into programmed patterns of domesticated behaviour for a supposed quantifiable, universal good. But the result is two monsters, sick, isolated and yet bound to each other: a hollowed out marionette of “enlightened progress” and a resentful narcissist condemned to waver between powerless moral indignation and cynical moral turpitude.

Both expressions of the modern individual are ill. The first is so because it is stripped of desire and will, submitted to a grand social calculus, governed by technicians and techniques of “well-being”, but thereby only “benefiting” in the development of “a many-sided sensitivity to sensation”. But what kind of “development” is this, when each is at the mercy of every and any seduction? In its most extreme form, we may even come to find vile “pleasure in blood”.

[Gloss: “The lengths to which man – already constricted in all his amusements, in all his faculties – will go to confine the scope of his existence out of unworthy prejudice is quite incredible. One cannot comprehend, for example, what possesses the man who makes a crime out of murder to impose such limits on all his delights; he has deprived himself of a hundred pleasures each more delicious than the last by having the audacity to adopt the odious fantasy of that prejudice; and what the devil does it matter to Nature whether there are one, ten, twenty, five hundred more or fewer men in the world?” – Marquis de Sade, The 120 Days of Sodom]

Progress culminates in these “last” or “little” women and men, the worker-consumer ants devoured by a political-social machine that in fact no one fully masters; even more so today, when each one of us is called upon to manage her/his own life as capital to be constantly improved upon, so as to render oneself ever more profitable-exploitable.

For Dostoyevsky, the moral hubris that feeds the machine is the concept of progress, the idea that a final, absolute good is attainable.

And for those who wish to desert the vessel of progress, there is the underground, inhabited by those hateful of their own “civilised” sensitivities. They are however incapable of walking away or against them, for they share in the same exacerbated sensitivity and suffer the same atrophy of will and desire that subjects the adepts of progress. If those in the underground “must be kept in check”, it is not because they are active and creative dissidents, eager to ridicule and tear down, at first opportunity, the crystal palace of progress, but because beneath the socially engineered happiness, they stand as testimony to the illusion of that happiness, or of the price that is paid for it: a humanity atomised and deprived of all autonomous singularity, of any capacity to act and to create, and morally indifferent to what is different. “Yes, a man of the nineteenth century ought, indeed is morally bound, to be essentially without character”.

A “man of character, a man who acts, is essentially limited”, Dostoyevsky tells us. The civilised and underground “man” both fail on this count, though for different reasons. Progress uproots all limits, but then only to place them in the hands of a “rational” State. The underground is the depository of the failure of progress, the rubbish heap of pasts reduced to ruins and of futures yet unimagined, a present that can only therefore project itself, the same, forever. The underground man is thus left to wallow in infirm and helpless self-consciousness, in a passive nihilism.

Dostoyevsky is often superficially described as a Christian moralist. He denounces modern civilisation for its secularism, for its refusal to see that human beings are far from good, for its failure to grasp, or its denial of, the fact that we relish destruction as much as creation. Even supposing the realisation of the promise that all our needs shall be met, we are ungrateful, and we will no sooner be seduced by promises of earthly Edens, as we will abandon them.

This picture though is too simple and its language remains imprisoned in a moral vocabulary that Dostoyevsky himself sought to question. Men and women have never acted solely in accordance with their self-interests, and this with knowledge and foresight. And where does our “self-interest” lie? Such advantage is but an “appointed road”, relative to social and political regimes, and against which acts of transgression appear as “perverse and difficult”. And yet, transgress we do and herein lies the good that escapes all classifications of utility and progress, while necessarily underlying them, as well as having the power to undo them. If there is “something that is dearer to almost every man than his own very best interests”, it is not evil as such, but free desire, creativity, the true good “distinguished precisely by [its] upsetting all our classifications and always destroying the systems established by lovers of humanity for the happiness of mankind.” While this good “interferes with everything”, is capable of violating everything, it is also that which builds, constructs. But let no construction stand as if uncreated, for that is the beginning of true evil, the sacrifice of life for an all too human ideal.

“… a man, whoever he is, always and everywhere likes to act as he chooses, and not at all according to the dictates of reason and self-interest; it is indeed possible, and sometimes positively imperative …, to act directly contrary to one’s own best interests. One’s own free and unfettered volition, one’s own caprice, however wild, one’s own fancy, inflamed sometimes to the point of madness – that is the one best and greatest good, which is never taken into consideration because it will not fit into any classification, and the omission of which always sends all systems and theories to the devil. … What a man needs is simply and solely independent volition, whatever that independence may cost and wherever it may lead.”

[Gloss: If we consider the “will”, “volition”, the “individual” – all Dostoyevsky’s terms – as stand-ins for the whole of human life – as Dostoyevsky also says -, then we may better understand what is at stake here through the concept of singularity. The human good defies classification, knowledge, yet it is that upon which all knowledge is based, and all consequent or subsequent orders of power. But then it lies in the good to undo knowledge and power, to suspend, break away, overthrow. The good, freedom, singularity, are all what philosophers once called transcendental; they ground all orders of knowledge and power without being identical to any of them and without themselves being grounded. This an-archy at the heart of existence Hannah Arendt described as the capacity for beginnings which human beings secrete into nature, creating art, history and politics. “If the creation of man coincides with the creation of a beginning in the universe (and what else does this mean but the creation of freedom?), then the birth of individual men, being new beginnings, re-affirms the original character of man in such a way that origin can never become entirely a thing of the past; the very fact of the memorable continuity of these beginnings in the sequence of generations guarantees a history which can never end because it is the history of beings whose essence is beginning.” (Hannah Arendt, Understanding and Politics) It is this that Dostoyevsky calls the good, and it is this that both the “underground man” and the “man of progress” lack. Their imaginations can go no further than the repetition of the violent present, and there is but one word for this: horror.]

“Outside” the underground

Dostoyevsky’s mirroring and self-reflecting reality – civilisation-underground – is no longer ours. Capitalism has abandoned all illusions of being a rationally organised society, aspiring to generalised human well-being. It is neither objectively so, nor does it pretend to be so ideologically, except for the few, and in many instances, through ever more exacerbated forms of nationalism. Spectacle commodity capitalism can only seduce with the promise of money and consumer acquisition. And since the latter has little or nothing to do with the purchase of what is useful, capitalism can only offer up more of the same, useless goods; goods, however, which flatter an increasingly one dimensional narcissistic consciousness. And as the many will always be excluded, to varying degrees, from the possibility of consumer bliss, the proliferation of spectacular commodities is necessarily accompanied by an increased militarisation of social life, both within and across national borders.

Within a state of permanent crises, catastrophes and exceptions, all talk of planned and engineered happiness for all becomes impossible, and anyway, no one believes it any longer. The self-mutilating cynicism of Dostoyevsky’s underground man is now in the foreground; indeed, today, the underground has ceased to exist.

What then remains of Dostoyevsky’s still tortured search for freedom, for a life beyond the civilisation-underground polarity? In his fiction, he imagined at least two, but ill-fated, possibilities: the sincere but deluded, and ultimately violent, social reformer, determined to re-organise society such that all are materially content, as judged by the reformer, and the underground man turned criminal, who in a moment of decisive indecision, acts by murdering those who are perceived to be useless – Raskolnikov’s ironic tragedy -, or who by an overwhelming will to will, chooses without regard for anything and in total indifference to whether s/he lives or dies – Kirilov’s self-annihilating nihilism. Both examples fail because they continue to carry with them the weight of civilisation-the underground; indeed, the burden is such, that they never in fact escape at all.

But why try to escape? Why attempt to live differently? If our world abounds with examples of those who endeavour to escape, only to find themselves in the same place (all of those who move, forcefully or willingly, for a “better life”), and though it may even count a few who are content, the horror stubbornly persists and grows, consequently and inevitably, even if only momentarily for some, piercing through the seamless images of happiness (and the police-military are present precisely to guarantee that these will only be moments). A call reaches us on such occasions, a call that we may ignore, turn a deaf ear to, shout out, insult, or not. In the latter instance, a moral shift occurs, an indignant awakening that loosens the chains fixing our desires and imagination, and that may give birth to resistance, rebellion.

“One picture, only one more, because it’s so curious, so characteristic, and I have only just read it in some collection of Russian antiquities. I’ve forgotten the name. I must look it up. It was in the darkest days of serfdom at the beginning of the century, and long live the Liberator of the People! There was in those days a general of aristocratic connections, the owner of great estates, one of those men—somewhat exceptional, I believe, even then—who, retiring from the service into a life of leisure, are convinced that they’ve earned absolute power over the lives of their subjects. There were such men then. So our general, settled on his property of two thousand souls, lives in pomp, and domineers over his poor neighbors as though they were dependents and buffoons. He has kennels of hundreds of hounds and nearly a hundred dog-boys—all mounted, and in uniform. One day a serf-boy, a little child of eight, threw a stone in play and hurt the paw of the general’s favorite hound. ‘Why is my favorite dog lame?’ He is told that the boy threw a stone that hurt the dog’s paw. ‘So you did it.’The general looked the child up and down. ‘Take him.’ He was taken—taken from his mother and kept shut up all night. Early that morning the general comes out on horseback, with the hounds, his dependents, dog-boys, and huntsmen, all mounted around him in full hunting parade. The servants are summoned for their edification, and in front of them all stands the mother of the child. The child is brought from the lock-up. It’s a gloomy, cold, foggy autumn day, a capital day for hunting. The general orders the child to be undressed; the child is stripped naked. He shivers, numb with terror, not daring to cry…. ‘Make him run,’ commands the general. ‘Run! run!’ shout the dog-boys. The boy runs…. ‘At him!’ yells the general, and he sets the whole pack of hounds on the child. The hounds catch him, and tear him to pieces before his mother’s eyes!… I believe the general was afterwards declared incapable of administering his estates. Well—what did he deserve? To be shot? To be shot for the satisfaction of our moral feelings? Speak, Alyosha!”

“To be shot,” murmured Alyosha, lifting his eyes to Ivan with a pale, twisted smile.

“Bravo!” cried Ivan, delighted. “If even you say so…. You’re a pretty monk! So there is a little devil sitting in your heart, Alyosha Karamazov!”

“What I said was absurd, but—”

“That’s just the point, that ‘but’!” cried Ivan. “Let me tell you, novice, that the absurd is only too necessary on earth. The world stands on absurdities, and perhaps nothing would have come to pass in it without them. We know what we know!”

“What do you know?”

“I understand nothing,” Ivan went on, as though in delirium. “I don’t want to understand anything now. I want to stick to the fact. I made up my mind long ago not to understand. If I try to understand anything, I shall be false to the fact, and I have determined to stick to the fact.”

The exchange is between Ivan and Alexei/Alyosha Karamazov. For Ivan, an atheist, the senseless torture of children is the greatest testimony to the absence of a just God and the absurdity of human existence. Alyosha, a novice monk, distraught by the horror of Ivan’s picture, momentarily falls by admitting that vengeance is the only possible response, to then step back in horror from what he has said. For Dostoyevsky, violence, and violent revolution as espoused by political vanguards, against injustice, would only engender the same reality, or worse. If “resistance” is possible, it must be found along a different path.

Prince Myshkin, Dostoyevsky’s “idiot”, quoting someone whom he calls an “old believer”, says, “He who has no firm ground beneath his feet, has no God”. He writes similarly in the The Devils/The Possessed, that “he who has no people, has no God”. It is tempting to interpret these passages as expressions of Dostoyevsky’s russophilia and Russian religious orthodoxy, but to do so shuts out the resonances of something deeper.

Jesus is recorded to have said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” (Mathew 5:13) This is Dostoyevsky’s question as well, perhaps in part narrowly addressed to his fellow Russians, or to those pained by the loss of “Russian spirituality”. The question however cannot but escape from any parochial national limits and it is ultimately to “modern man” that he addresses it.

Jesus’ own answer is the following: “It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.”

If we read this passage as referring to Jesus’ disciples as those who give life to the earth, then to lose “their taste” is to stray from their mission of spreading the teachings of the new covenant; a covenant expressible in a single commandment: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

[Gloss: Raskolnikov had a fearful dream. He dreamt he was back in his childhood in the little town of his birth. He was a child about seven years old, walking into the country with his father on the evening of a holiday. It was a grey and heavy day, the country was exactly as he remembered it; indeed he recalled it far more vividly in his dream than he had done in memory. The little town stood on a level flat as bare as the hand, not even a willow near it; only in the far distance, a copse lay, a dark blur on the very edge of the horizon. A few paces beyond the last market garden stood a tavern, a big tavern, which had always aroused in him a feeling of aversion, even of fear, when he walked by it with his father. There was always a crowd there, always shouting, laughter and abuse, hideous hoarse singing and often fighting. Drunken and horrible-looking figures were hanging about the tavern. He used to cling close to his father, trembling all over when he met them. Near the tavern the road became a dusty track, the dust of which was always black. It was a winding road, and about a hundred paces further on, it turned to the right to the graveyard. In the middle of the graveyard stood a stone church with a green cupola where he used to go to mass two or three times a year with his father and mother, when a service was held in memory of his grandmother, who had long been dead, and whom he had never seen. On these occasions they used to take on a white dish tied up in a table napkin a special sort of rice pudding with raisins stuck in it in the shape of a cross. He loved that church, the old-fashioned, unadorned ikons and the old priest with the shaking head. Near his grandmother’s grave, which was marked by a stone, was the little grave of his younger brother who had died at six months old. He did not remember him at all, but he had been told about his little brother, and whenever he visited the graveyard he used religiously and reverently to cross himself and to bow down and kiss the little grave. And now he dreamt that he was walking with his father past the tavern on the way to the graveyard; he was holding his father’s hand and looking with dread at the tavern. A peculiar circumstance attracted his attention: there seemed to be some kind of festivity going on, there were crowds of gaily dressed townspeople, peasant women, their husbands, and riff-raff of all sorts, all singing and all more or less drunk. Near the entrance of the tavern stood a cart, but a strange cart. It was one of those big carts usually drawn by heavy cart-horses and laden with casks of wine or other heavy goods. He always liked looking at those great cart-horses, with their long manes, thick legs, and slow even pace, drawing along a perfect mountain with no appearance of effort, as though it were easier going with a load than without it. But now, strange to say, in the shafts of such a cart he saw a thin little sorrel beast, one of those peasants’ nags which he had often seen straining their utmost under a heavy load of wood or hay, especially when the wheels were stuck in the mud or in a rut. And the peasants would beat them so cruelly, sometimes even about the nose and eyes, and he felt so sorry, so sorry for them that he almost cried, and his mother always used to take him away from the window. All of a sudden there was a great uproar of shouting, singing and the balalaïka, and from the tavern a number of big and very drunken peasants came out, wearing red and blue shirts and coats thrown over their shoulders.

“Get in, get in!” shouted one of them, a young thick-necked peasant with a fleshy face red as a carrot. “I’ll take you all, get in!”

But at once there was an outbreak of laughter and exclamations in the crowd.

“Take us all with a beast like that!”

“Why, Mikolka, are you crazy to put a nag like that in such a cart?”

“And this mare is twenty if she is a day, mates!”

“Get in, I’ll take you all,” Mikolka shouted again, leaping first into the cart, seizing the reins and standing straight up in front. “The bay has gone with Matvey,” he shouted from the cart—“and this brute, mates, is just breaking my heart, I feel as if I could kill her. She’s just eating her head off. Get in, I tell you! I’ll make her gallop! She’ll gallop!” and he picked up the whip, preparing himself with relish to flog the little mare.

“Get in! Come along!” The crowd laughed. “D’you hear, she’ll gallop!”

“Gallop indeed! She has not had a gallop in her for the last ten years!”

“She’ll jog along!”

“Don’t you mind her, mates, bring a whip each of you, get ready!”

“All right! Give it to her!”

They all clambered into Mikolka’s cart, laughing and making jokes. Six men got in and there was still room for more. They hauled in a fat, rosy-cheeked woman. She was dressed in red cotton, in a pointed, beaded headdress and thick leather shoes; she was cracking nuts and laughing. The crowd round them was laughing too and indeed, how could they help laughing? That wretched nag was to drag all the cartload of them at a gallop! Two young fellows in the cart were just getting whips ready to help Mikolka. With the cry of “now,” the mare tugged with all her might, but far from galloping, could scarcely move forward; she struggled with her legs, gasping and shrinking from the blows of the three whips which were showered upon her like hail. The laughter in the cart and in the crowd was redoubled, but Mikolka flew into a rage and furiously thrashed the mare, as though he supposed she really could gallop.

“Let me get in, too, mates,” shouted a young man in the crowd whose appetite was aroused.

“Get in, all get in,” cried Mikolka, “she will draw you all. I’ll beat her to death!” And he thrashed and thrashed at the mare, beside himself with fury.

“Father, father,” he cried, “father, what are they doing? Father, they are beating the poor horse!”

“Come along, come along!” said his father. “They are drunken and foolish, they are in fun; come away, don’t look!” and he tried to draw him away, but he tore himself away from his hand, and, beside himself with horror, ran to the horse. The poor beast was in a bad way. She was gasping, standing still, then tugging again and almost falling.

“Beat her to death,” cried Mikolka, “it’s come to that. I’ll do for her!”

“What are you about, are you a Christian, you devil?” shouted an old man in the crowd.

“Did anyone ever see the like? A wretched nag like that pulling such a cartload,” said another.

“You’ll kill her,” shouted the third.

“Don’t meddle! It’s my property, I’ll do what I choose. Get in, more of you! Get in, all of you! I will have her go at a gallop!…”

All at once laughter broke into a roar and covered everything: the mare, roused by the shower of blows, began feebly kicking. Even the old man could not help smiling. To think of a wretched little beast like that trying to kick!

Two lads in the crowd snatched up whips and ran to the mare to beat her about the ribs. One ran each side.

“Hit her in the face, in the eyes, in the eyes,” cried Mikolka.

“Give us a song, mates,” shouted someone in the cart and everyone in the cart joined in a riotous song, jingling a tambourine and whistling. The woman went on cracking nuts and laughing.

… He ran beside the mare, ran in front of her, saw her being whipped across the eyes, right in the eyes! He was crying, he felt choking, his tears were streaming. One of the men gave him a cut with the whip across the face, he did not feel it. Wringing his hands and screaming, he rushed up to the grey-headed old man with the grey beard, who was shaking his head in disapproval. One woman seized him by the hand and would have taken him away, but he tore himself from her and ran back to the mare. She was almost at the last gasp, but began kicking once more.

“I’ll teach you to kick,” Mikolka shouted ferociously. He threw down the whip, bent forward and picked up from the bottom of the cart a long, thick shaft, he took hold of one end with both hands and with an effort brandished it over the mare.

“He’ll crush her,” was shouted round him. “He’ll kill her!”

“It’s my property,” shouted Mikolka and brought the shaft down with a swinging blow. There was a sound of a heavy thud.

“Thrash her, thrash her! Why have you stopped?” shouted voices in the crowd.

And Mikolka swung the shaft a second time and it fell a second time on the spine of the luckless mare. She sank back on her haunches, but lurched forward and tugged forward with all her force, tugged first on one side and then on the other, trying to move the cart. But the six whips were attacking her in all directions, and the shaft was raised again and fell upon her a third time, then a fourth, with heavy measured blows. Mikolka was in a fury that he could not kill her at one blow.

“She’s a tough one,” was shouted in the crowd.

“She’ll fall in a minute, mates, there will soon be an end of her,” said an admiring spectator in the crowd.

“Fetch an axe to her! Finish her off,” shouted a third.

“I’ll show you! Stand off,” Mikolka screamed frantically; he threw down the shaft, stooped down in the cart and picked up an iron crowbar. “Look out,” he shouted, and with all his might he dealt a stunning blow at the poor mare. The blow fell; the mare staggered, sank back, tried to pull, but the bar fell again with a swinging blow on her back and she fell on the ground like a log.

“Finish her off,” shouted Mikolka and he leapt beside himself, out of the cart. Several young men, also flushed with drink, seized anything they could come across—whips, sticks, poles, and ran to the dying mare. Mikolka stood on one side and began dealing random blows with the crowbar. The mare stretched out her head, drew a long breath and died.

“You butchered her,” someone shouted in the crowd.

“Why wouldn’t she gallop then?”

“My property!” shouted Mikolka, with bloodshot eyes, brandishing the bar in his hands. He stood as though regretting that he had nothing more to beat.

“No mistake about it, you are not a Christian,” many voices were shouting in the crowd.

But the poor boy, beside himself, made his way, screaming, through the crowd to the sorrel nag, put his arms round her bleeding dead head and kissed it, kissed the eyes and kissed the lips…. Then he jumped up and flew in a frenzy with his little fists out at Mikolka. At that instant his father, who had been running after him, snatched him up and carried him out of the crowd.

“Come along, come! Let us go home,” he said to him.

“Father! Why did they… kill… the poor horse!” he sobbed, but his voice broke and the words came in shrieks from his panting chest.

“They are drunk…. They are brutal… it’s not our business!” said his father. He put his arms round his father but he felt choked, choked. He tried to draw a breath, to cry out—and woke up.

He waked up, gasping for breath, his hair soaked with perspiration, and stood up in terror.

– Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment]

[Gloss: “I think… that love encompasses the experience of the possible transition from the pure randomness of chance to a state that has universal value. Starting out from something that is simply an encounter, a trifle, you learn that you can experience the world on the basis of difference and not only in terms of identity. And you can even be tested and suffer in the process. In today’s world, it is generally thought that individuals only pursue their own self-interest. Love is an antidote to that. Provided it isn’t conceived only as an exchange of mutual favours, or isn’t calculated way in advance as a profitable investment, love really is a unique trust placed in chance. It takes us into key areas of the experience of what is difference and, essentially, leads to the idea that you can experience the world from the perspective of difference. In this respect it has universal implications: it is an individual experience of potential universality, and is thus central to philosophy, as Plato was the first to intuit.” – Alain Badiou, In Praise of Love]

All of Dostoyevsky’s characters are lost to love. If he believes that life without suffering is impossible (and the illusion of social reformers lies in the belief that pain and suffering can be legislated away – [Gloss: “I’m trying to say what I think brotherhood really is. It begins — it begins in shared pain.” – Ursula Le Guin, The Dispossessed]) and that there is redemption in humility and confession of evil, it is not because some institutionalised church authority tells him so; if this were all the moved Dostoyevsky’s, then he would be an obscene fool. No, what sustains Dostoyevsky’s faith, and what makes the horror of injustice bearable and forgiveness meaningful, is love. Without it, then all that would in fact remain to us is cynicism or suicide.

In the figure of the Grand Inquisitor confronted by Jesus, who has returned once more, of the novel The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoyevsky opposes to the Church’s government of needs, Jesus’ silent and lawless freedom. For the Grand Inquisitor, Jesus’ silence and anarchy left his disciples and those desirous of following them, with nothing. The example of his life was impossible, and thus the Church was given no choice but to render the impossible, impossible. The Church offered not freedom, but bread and security. Against the fear of the uncertainties of life, the Church promised the fulfillment of needs. And before the possibility of the latter, and if a choice must be made, as it was, freedom will be forgotten, condemned even, for relative comfort. To this, Jesus cannot argue with words (unlike the underground man) – for what common ground exists between them to be able to argue? – but only with deeds, with a freedom testified to in the flesh. And because to act freely (and recall, that for the underground man, to act is to be stupid, or we may add, a child or an idiot) is impossible, the Church, the sovereign of needs, must act against Jesus: the Grand Inquisitor orders him to be burned at the stake.

In what he calls a reservation, Dostoyevsky’s underground man points to what Dostoyevsky may have thought as the only possibility of living freely:

“I agree that man is pre-eminently a creative animal, predestined to strive consciously for an object and to engage in engineering–that is, incessantly and eternally to make new roads, wherever they may lead. But the reason why he wants sometimes to go off at a tangent may just be that he is predestined to make the road, and perhaps, too, that however stupid the “direct” practical man may be, the thought sometimes will occur to him that the road almost always does lead somewhere, and that the destination it leads to is less important than the process of making it, and that the chief thing is to save the well-conducted child from despising engineering, and so giving way to the fatal idleness, which, as we all know, is the mother of all the vices. Man likes to make roads and to create, that is a fact beyond dispute. But why has he such a passionate love for destruction and chaos also? Tell me that! But on that point I want to say a couple of words myself. May it not be that he loves chaos and destruction (there can be no disputing that he does sometimes love it) because he is instinctively afraid of attaining his object and completing the edifice he is constructing? Who knows, perhaps he only loves that edifice from a distance, and is by no means in love with it at close quarters; perhaps he only loves building it and does not want to live in it, but will leave it, when completed, for the use of les animaux domestiques – such as the ants, the sheep, and so on. Now the ants have quite a different taste. They have a marvellous edifice of that pattern which endures for ever – the ant-heap.

With the ant-heap the respectable race of ants began and with the ant-heap they will probably end, which does the greatest credit to their perseverance and good sense. But man is a frivolous and incongruous creature, and perhaps, like a chess player, loves the process of the game, not the end of it. And who knows (there is no saying with certainty), perhaps the only goal on earth to which mankind is striving lies in this incessant process of attaining, in other words, in life itself, and not in the thing to be attained, which must always be expressed as a formula, as positive as twice two makes four, and such positiveness is not life, gentlemen, but is the beginning of death. Anyway, man has always been afraid of this mathematical certainty, and I am afraid of it now. Granted that man does nothing but seek that mathematical certainty, he traverses oceans, sacrifices his life in the quest, but to succeed, really to find it, dreads, I assure you. He feels that when he has found it there will be nothing for him to look for. When workmen have finished their work they do at least receive their pay, they go to the tavern, then they are taken to the police-station–and there is occupation for a week. But where can man go? Anyway, one can observe a certain awkwardness about him when he has attained such objects. He loves the process of attaining, but does not quite like to have attained, and that, of course, is very absurd. In fact, man is a comical creature; there seems to be a kind of jest in it all. But yet mathematical certainty is after all, something insufferable. Twice two makes four seems to me simply a piece of insolence. Twice two makes four is a pert coxcomb who stands with arms akimbo barring your path and spitting. I admit that twice two makes four is an excellent thing, but if we are to give everything its due, twice two makes five is sometimes a very charming thing too.”

To live not as a means to an end (the logic of instrumentalisation), nor as an end in oneself (the logic of sacralisation), but as a means without end, always in the midst of a becoming without beginning or end. This is what we are desirous to call anarchy.

John Gielgud as the The Grand Inquisitor (a production for the Open University – BBC, 1975)

Tags: dostoyevskyliteraturecategory: Essays
Categories: News

The Common Ground Between Anarchists and Maoists

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 17:21

via gods and radicals

The World Cup ended, after we incessantly politicized athletes and the countries those teams were representing. There was something suspiciously convenient about remembering French colonialism now, but forgetting FIFA’s corruption and oppression. This way we can stay glued to the T.V. without losing any “woke points”.

Brazil’s uprising against FIFA in 2013 and 2014 is not a thing of the past. The pretexts that turned social movements into terrorist organizations are to this day responsible for the criminalization of political activism. This resulted in 23 political prisoners with sentences between 5 and 13 years, some still being prosecuted now. People have died, and many more lost their homes. But what we talk about is how cheering for Mexico is an anti-Trump statement, and that the German team is somehow related (symbolically) to Merkel’s refugee policy.

We are witnessing the facade of U.S. American style Democracy crumbing down, revealing the Fascism of an Imperialized State that mass incarcerates and kills poor people of color, trans people, and women. Moreover, a State that uses a corporation to distract the masses with nationalistic sports, while it criminalizes political dissent.

Brazilian Anarchists and Maoists are both being criminalized for dissent that could undermine the government’s ability to function. The OATL (Anarchist Organization of Land and Liberty) and the MEPR (Popular Revolutionary Student Movement) have recently been denominated initiators of violent protest acts in 2013.

“OATL and MEPR members planned to launch Molotov cocktails and other flaming objects at the police during marches against the world cup” – (Folha de São Paulo, July 17th 2018)

Even with all our ideological differences; particularly in relation to the idolatrous use of leadership, and the interest in rebuilding a state that will sustain the dictatorship of the proletariat; we agree that the state we live in now, and its electoral system, must be overthrown. The re-centralization of economic and structural power in a communist government is not at all attractive to us anarchists. And we see that, although efficient in the short run, the personality cult of leaders is not only contradictory to our principles of horizontality. It is also unsustainable, since up to now revolutions have died with their leaders.

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“Elections are a farce – don’t vote – long live the rural and anti imperialist democratic revolution! MEPR.”

Our common ground is the idea that the dichotomy between left and right in the electoral field is reformist / reactionary rather than revolutionary, since it seeks representation in, and consequently validation of, the system. Even the most far-left candidates like Guilherme Boulos (PSOL), with his rhetoric of defending the poor with policies against real estate speculation and so on, aim at rebuilding the faith of the Brazilian people in the system. This only slows down the revolution. We know that the candidate will not win, if he wins he will not do what he says, and if he tries to do what he says he will be impeached, imprisoned, or killed (as we have seen so many times before).

The strategy of using the partisan platform supported by the U.S. American Style Democracy to spread revolutionary ideas is like fucking for virginity, validating in the process the very thing we are trying to invalidate. The immediate needs of the people who most need this revolution can not be satiated with crumbs. It is our responsibility as militants to not create dependence on the very Government we aim to overthrow, and strive to meet these immediate needs as a community; a Movement.

“There is only the concern of throwing crumbs at the gaping mouth of hunger, perhaps so that they leave us alone …” (Maria Lacerda de Moura)

From 11 to 15 July, pedagogy students from all over Brazil met at União dos Palmares, Alagoas, to discuss methods of combating State attacks against education, and the rights of the people inside and outside the academic sphere in our country.

This was the 38th ENEPe (National Meeting of Students of Pedagogy), and its 1st Marxist-Leninist-Maoist edition.

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The realization of this groundbreaking event in the history of ENEPe was not possible without overcoming serious obstacles. There was a rupture between leftist students, resulting in two different events being held: this one organized by ExNEPe (National Executive of Students of Pedagogy) with predominant presence of the MEPR, and another event with predominant presence of MEPe (Student Movement of Pedagogy) and student movements linked to UNE (National Union of Students).

This ideological divergence among “leftist” students is based on partisanship. The MEPR claims political independence, a vote boycott, and a complete rejection of financial dependence on, or campaigning for, political parties. In addition, they also aim to keep this event open to students from other academic fields and to non-students.

For many, the boycott of the vote means a breach for the right to strengthen, or even a right in disguise (like blaming 3rd party voters for Trump). Those of the MEPe, who were not on board with MEPR rhetoric, not only made their own event at another date and place, but also sabotaged the initiative and promotion of their peers’ event. Posters promoting the 38th ENEPe in União dos Palmares were removed or damaged in some way throughout the country.

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The vast majority of the approximately 400 people present had to overcome multiple financial and bureaucratic obstacles, as well as the sabotage of other students, to attend the event that week. Therefore, the presence of each one, from each region, held the weight of dedication to militancy, and the enthusiasm of a youth with faith in the revolution.

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Delegations from each region, sleeping quarters.

On the last day of the meeting, the MFP (Popular Women’s Movement) presented itself as a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, embracing the cause of women who are students, teachers, workers and peasants, and stating that the landowning (bourgois) woman is an enemy. The Movement aims to combat unpaid domestic work, the servitude of maids to their bourgeois employers, and the idea that there is some innate difference between men and women.

We must also overcome the monogamy of traditional families, because it was born with the concept of private property to ensure the transfer of assets by inheritance. They also affirmed that there is no rape culture, there is the Patriarchy and Capitalism. Therefore, one does not destroy rape culture with laws, one destroys capitalist patriarchy with a revolution. The problem is not the man, it is the State. And above all, the purpose of the organization is “to awaken revolutionary fury in women.”

The event showed beautifully how Popular Culture is resistance. A typical Alagoan dance performance opened a series of cultural presentations of each delegation present. It became clear that “each Brazilian region is a Country”, as one of the students observed. It was exciting to witness how extreme diversity can mean full union and solidarity. Several dances, songs, stories, and languages were presented, highlighting how the hegemony violently invisibilizes valuable cultural expressions in Brazil (we are much more than just Rio and São Paulo).

On Saturday, July 14th, participants were divided into three groups, one of them destined to the historical site of Quilombo dos Palmares. This is the most famous settlement of runaway enslaved Africans in resistance to Portuguese and Dutch occupation. The trip in the yellow school bus was a celebration, everyone alternated between singing tacky songs and chanting political slogans. In Serra da Barriga, in the region of Zumbi dos Palmares (the a most famous abolitionist leader of the Quilombo), we rattled on the dirt road, up and down mountains of low vegetation, with occasional coconut trees being greeted by vultures.

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It was inevitable to feel the power of that land, even though it is now structured somewhat like a theme park. Each step seemed to lift a centuries-old combative memory, as if it were dust that instead of obfuscating, made our political purpose even clearer. The sight from above the mountain almost placed us in the bodies of the men and women who settled there 400 years ago, and in the strategic awareness of being able to see enemies from afar without being seen.

At the end of the visit, many of us swam in the small pastel green lagoon where Quilombolas “fed their souls”.

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When we returned to the university in União dos Palmares, we attended presentations of works, some of which would later be awarded. One of them addressed the importance of sex education in schools for students between 11 and 15 years of age. The interests of the children revolved around the themes of masturbation, puberty and menstruation. The presenter showed that sex is still a taboo between teachers and principals. When we see how common it is for 13 to 15 year old girls to become pregnant, the importance of overcoming this taboo and addressing this issue is revealed as undeniably urgent.

The importance of history was emphasized when we recognized that Brazil has a memory problem. A presentation on the Araguaia Guerrilla discussed the perpetuation of violence, decades after the battle, when the crimes of the resistance are judicially equated with those of the oppressors. She also brought up the subject of female particularities when it comes to the practice of torture during the Brazilian “dictatorship” (Military regime of 1964-1985), and the question of using the term “dictatorship” as it is used by the bourgeois democracy to defend its contemporary dictatorial policies.

In general, there was a lot of repetition of terms such as “postmodernist,” “opportunistic,” “immobilist,” and scientific Marxism, without refined definitions and contextualizations. This alienated certain students who did not identify as Marxist, and gave little opening for participants to disagree. Even the final votes were bizarrely homogeneous, perhaps not only because there was consensus, but also because going against the group would be intimidating.

For the bourgeoisie and petit bourgeoisie, inaccessibility is the charm. With them there is no dialogue, there is combat. Fighting the idea that “a lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth” (Goebbels) also means recognizing that there are different perspectives on reality, and not just a truth that belongs to scientific socialists. Occasional failures to recognize this have resulted in certain unfortunate affirmations, such as one on the mysticism of “primitive” communities, and superficial and unnecessary approaches towards dialectical materialism.

Even so, it was stated that the science we see today in the academy serves the Capital. Scientific knowledge of the people, be it indigenous, black or peasant, is appropriated by the ruling class and patented. We have to bring science back to the people, by preserving traditional indigenous education, for example. To one of the speakers, the “Indigenous problem” is a class problem, not a white supremacy problem; It is a struggle for land and survival. It would be interesting to have more Indigenous and Quilombola groups in the coming events, so much so that it was decided that the theme of the 23rd FoNEPe (National Forum of Pedagogical Entities) will be “education that serves indigenous, peasant and Quilombola communities”, next year in Juazeiro, Bahia.

At the end, the farewells were warm, since during the week we cultivated great affection for each other. There was room for self-criticism and growth, and the socio-political potential of the event is undeniable. We are all excited about the next ENEPe (39th) that will take place in Guarulhos, São Paulo, with the theme “defending the public school against privatization.”

Mirna Wabi-Sabi Tags: brazilmaoismcategory: International
Categories: News

One Year Later: Santiago Maldonado Presente!

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 17:11

The presence of an absence
Translated from the bulletin "La Oveja Negra" n.56, July 2018, (Rosario, Argentina)

Just short of the anniversary of that 1st of August in which they took Santiago, it's important that the commemoration be accompanied by revolutionary memory and the extension of the social conflict. Santiago was a sensitive person, a rebel, his writings and raps speak so strongly that the wind doesn't carry them. They agitate and move us, against the pope, the presidents, the megaprojects and against the existing order, with humor, with certainty.
They tried to make Santiago disappear two times: firstly the armed forces and later others, hiding his struggle, his life, his ideas.
For Santiago, the anarchist who stood in solidarity with the prisoners for the sackings in Bariloche, who fought in the assemblies and the barricades of Chiloé, who cut the route 40 for the liberation of Facundo, TN1 they organized church masses and they inserted him into electoral discourses. They tried to reduce him to a victim: of the gendermes, of Bullrich,TN2 of Macri, or even of the mapuches themselves as the officialist slant pushed. Meanwhile, his comrades in struggle were pursued by the police and branded as infiltrators in the mobilizations, which still continues today.
"It's notable, that the repression suffered dialy by the mapuche communities in the south, imprisonment of Facundo Jones
Huala, and above all, the profound social content of the Autonomous Mapuche Movement of Puelmapu, is in the same or worse grade of obscurity and misinterpretation as before the disappearance of Brujo." We said this last year, and it hasn't done anything more but get worse since then.
Recently, we are being witness to a new campaign of lies in which they try to establish the mapuche as those who fooled and abandoned Santiago, at the same time as they lied to the family. Santiago was not fooled in Cushamen, he knew what he was doing and not doing. Those that don't know anything are the killers and their accessories who think that with force and lies they can stop the struggle and the solidarity. For that reason they publish phone-taps made on Sergio Maldonado and on Ariel Garzi, who has already come out to say that those transcriptions are in part false. These phone-taps are one more part of the permanent mafioso message of the State, not only to the mapuche, but to the whole social movement. Like when they planted the dead body of Santiago, they want to sow the example of what can happen to us when we disobey, when we fight for a different reality. Just like on the other side of the the wire, it is sought to break apart the groups that tender support to the territorial recuperations, to isolate the communities in conflict, their authorities, spokespersons and combatants.
Like a year ago, like always, the State, it's Justice and its jails can't give any other response but violence, against all those who confront their terrorism and their world of death and misery.

TN1: Facundo Jones Huala, incarcerated mapuche activist and tribal leader
TN2: Patricia Bullrich, Argentine Minister of Security

The God of Business

O God! Who is in the heavens of your empire.
You that are the guardian of the safes, you that sleeps among the bricks of gold, silver, titanium and copper!
You that are sheltered from the earthly crisis when there is hunger, collective hysteria, natural and artificial disasters!
You that sees it all and knows it all!!
You that can judge the mortals, say who may enter and who may not, who may rejoice in happiness and who shall grovel in the dirt, putrid and precarious!!!
You, king of kings, we defy, under that varnished cross of deforestation for the civilization and modernity!
Your temples will be occupied by the barbarians and will be pockets of resistance, flames in the darkness with protective sparks, the force and the energy must accompany us in the paths of life which we have chosen in order to confront adverse situations and the obstacles which present themselves through the length and width of the course of the trails....
life is for living and enjoying, not to watch as it passes by, it's not disney, it's not big brother, it's no bestselling novel...
it's simply unique above all...

Vote For Me

Why do we insist that you vote?
Because we want to subject you in the present so that in the future you will continue being subjected.
We think that by blocking your mind and alienating you with our projects in health, education, work, security, comfort and technology, we will secure the bank, the social status and the power that we so dearly covet.
We believe in the social hierarchy and that we must order and you must obey, because like so a fatherland for every man and woman is achieved.
Someone must govern and it's for this reason that we're here, if not everything would be in chaos and freedom would reign, everyone would do what they wanted and we would not exist.
We also believe that with the money collected from the slavery that we want to impose we can control every corner of the planet Earth, reinforce the surveillance with security cameras at every step that you take, more police, military, armies and terror.
To make more jails and jobs in order to torture, silence and isolate those who don't adapt to the rules of the game.

Fire to the ballots, democracy, the parliament, to the Nazional Constitution!!!
Neither votes nor boots.
Nobody represents you but yourself!
No bosses, no leaders.

Texts by Santiago Maldonado
Extracted from his zine "Vagabun2 de la Idea", Mendoza, 2015

Argsesina*

Here in Argsesina 2016,
A mediocre country as you see.
To the right or in reverse, what is it that you see?
Everyone thinks that that had it good before.
Now appears the corruption, the unemployment, the inflation and the intoxication.
Look at the TV, everyone's distracted by the dollars that appear hidden in mansions, in convents.
This money was already robbed from me, from you and from our forerunners. Nature demands revenge!
The extractivism increases their profits.
Some businessmen have their their bellies swelled.
Others malnourished, preoccupied with a balance.
What is it that's happening?
In this world in trance, some are dying and others have hope in democracy.
Everything is already said. If you give yourself they will fuck you.
The people buy the discourse of progress, what do they understand by this?
That the yuta (shaman priestess) comes and she breaks your bones.
Or that they fool you in a church, on bended knee with the wooden cross. And if the priest wants he'll get sex from you.
That's what it is, that's progress.
The profit Pablo communicated his utterances.
And there's many witnesses of so many sacrifices, as if now they don't sacrifice you in your workplace.
Don't be foolish, open your eyes and your ears.
Progress is your enemy!
They contaminate a sea with dead salmon.
They destroy a mountain for a thermoelectric dam.
This is progress. It demolishes everything, it doesn't care at all, if you're a girl or an old lady.
It destroys life within seconds.
That which takes years to grow, can disappear in an instant.
That they dynamite a mountain for a mega-mine.
Or also that they make a highway to accelerate the commodities.
It's the magic of capitalism. Mickey Mouse with his cynicism. Rockefeller dancing in the abyss.
Likewise the struggle continues, in this era and right now.
Later in the church they speak to you of prophesy.
That everything is being fulfilled according to what the messiah foretold. Here and now, the struggle continues!
I'm beginning to distrust in what was premeditated, dictated so that now we put the blame on the devil.
Do you understand what I mean?

Lyrics of the song Argsesina, from the rap duo Santa Blasfemia of which Santiago Maldonado formed a part.

*Argesina is a conglomeration of the words 'Argentina' and 'Asesina' (Killer)

Tags: Santiago MaldonadoArgentinaMapuchecategory: International
Categories: News

Call-in for Sean Swain

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 14:39

From SeanSwain.org

Sean has come under fire by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. The ODRC has increased Sean’s security level from 3 to 5b, an increase that has sent him to solitary confinement, led to him being handcuffed during visits, and further removed him from any possibility for parole.

Additionally, the ODRC is threatening to put Sean on interstate compact, a system that ships subversive prisoners around the country, places heavy restrictions on communication, and interns them in the black hole of the interstate compact system.

We’re calling for any who feel compelled by Sean’s plight to call ODRC director Gary Mohr and demand that Sean’s appeal to the current disciplinary hearing be granted and that Sean’s security level be lowered. (A script for the call can be found below.)

Thank you all. Your solidarity means so much.

-Some friends of Sean Swain

Call:

Director Gary Mohr

614-387-0588

drc.publicinfo@odrc.state.oh.us

melissa.adkins@odrc.state.oh.us (Administrative Assistant for Mohr)

CALL-IN SCRIPT

I am calling on behalf of Sean Swain, inmate #243-205. I am a friend of Sean. I am calling to request the ODRC grant Mr. Swain’s appeal regarding his most recent disciplinary record, drop the charges, and lower his security level from 5b to 2. Mr. Swain is not a physical security risk, and there is no reason to keep him at such a high security rating where he will be unable to get the programming he needs to be eligible for rehabilitation and parole. Thank you for your consideration.

Tags: anarchists in troublesean swaincategory: Prisoners
Categories: News

Anarchy Radio 07-31-2018

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 14:16

LISTEN HERE: http://archive.org/details/AnarchyRadio07312018

An hour with Peter Werbe, long-time Fifth Estate editor. Two calls.

Tags: JZ and Elijahcategory: Projects
Categories: News

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